Internal medicine practitioners are similar to family physicians, as they diagnose, treat, and work to prevent diseases and conditions. However, unlike family doctors, internists focus exclusively on adult patients. If you’ve been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, consider adding an internist to your care team, such as Dr. Briones, who serves Mt. Kisco and the surrounding Westchester County.
Heart failure patients will usually be prescribed a combination of medications. Although there is no cure for heart failure, medications can help suppress the symptoms, and make it easier for your heart to pump blood. Taking your medications as prescribed will help prevent your condition from becoming worse. When patients take combinations of medications, managing them becomes even more important. Some heart failure medicines may require dietary modifications, such as aldosterone antagonists. These drugs can elevate your potassium level to a potentially dangerous point, and so your internal medicine practitioner may give you a low-potassium meal plan to follow. Another consideration is side effects. All drugs have the potential for side effects, and you won’t necessarily experience any major problems. If you do, talk to your internist—he or she may be able to prescribe a different drug within the same class.
Good nutrition is important for everyone, regardless of health status. However, it’s even more crucial for heart failure patients to eat a heart-healthy diet. Your internist will work with you to design a meal plan that you’ll enjoy and find easy to follow. An ideal diet for heart failure includes:
- Lots of vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains, rather than refined grains
- Lean proteins
- Nonfat or low-fat dairy products
- Negligible amounts of sodium
Too much sodium in your diet leads to water retention. This is indicated by swollen legs, ankles, and feet. Water retention forces your heart to work harder, causing shortness of breath.
Weight Loss Counseling
Heart failure patients are often advised to lose weight as obesity can lead to cardiovascular problems. Following the internist’s recommended meal plan is an effective way to reach a healthier weight. Your doctor will also likely discuss your exercise recommendations, and help you stay on track with your lifestyle plan.