eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting daily alcohol intake to three
standard drinks for men and two standard
drinks for women (with a maximum of 15 per
week and 10 per week, respectively), not smoking and controlling blood pressure.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Fluid buildup may cause the following
symptoms: shortness of breath, especially
when lying down; sudden weight gain (e.g., 1. 3
kilograms or 3 pounds over one or two days);
and/or swelling of the legs, ankles or feet.
People with heart failure may also have
some chest pain, feel tired and dizzy or have
cold hands and feet because less blood is
being supplied to the body. Diagnosis usually
involves an assessment of the symptoms, a
blood test and a number of special tests that
look at the function of the heart and lungs,
which may include such tests as chest X-ray,
electrocardiogram, echocardiogram or even a
cardiac MRI in some cases.
How is it treated?
In addition to taking on a healthier lifestyle, which often includes reducing sodium to
less than 2,000 milligrams per day and restricting fluids to less than 2 litres per day, treatment
may include several types of prescription medications taken together. Beta-blockers (such as
metoprolol and other medications ending in
-olol) ensure that the heart is not working too
hard. While ACE inhibitors (such as ramipril
or other medications ending in -pril) help protect the heart in different ways, the “water pills”
furosemide and spironolactone prevent fluid
buildup. Sometimes digoxin is used to
strengthen the heartbeat.
While these medications will not cure
heart failure, they will help manage the symptoms, slow the progression of the disease and
help prevent hospitalization from complications. A two- to three-month cardiac rehabilitation program, if available near you, can help
kick-start the path to recovery and solidify a
For more information on heart failure,
visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation at www.
heartandstroke.com. Your Costco pharmacist
is always available to discuss your heart-related concerns
with you and can
review your medications with you. C
B.Sc. Phm., CDE,
CGP, is director of
Pharmacies in Costco’s Quebec locations
are independently owned and operated.
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