Congestive Heart Failure diet

• Magnesium levels in the heart muscle may be low in congestive heart failure, and the deficiency can increase the risk for abnormal heart rhythms (see Cardiac Arrhythmias) and constriction of the blood vessels in the arms and legs, elevating the blood pressure.

Trying to pump against this higher pressure puts an even greater strain on the already weakened heart muscle. Deficiency in magnesium also contributes to sodium buildup and to deficiency in potassium, which is critical for normal electrical function of the heart. Recommendation: Ask your physician to check your magnesium level. If it is low, he or she will likely recommend a prescription form of magnesium for you.

• Congestive Heart Failure dietCongestive Heart Failure diet: L-carnitine is often called an amino acid but is actually a vitamin-like nutrient that helps power the heart. A deficiency has been linked to congestive heart failure. Recommendation: Take 2 grams daily.

•  Potassium deficiency, which can occur easily in congestive heart failure, can become quite serious if you take diuretic medications (fluid pills) to help reduce the swelling. You may also be taking the prescription medication digitalis (Digoxin, Lanoxin) to improve the strength of the heart muscle, and low potassium can cause problems there, as well. If your potassium falls too low, your heart becomes prone to potentially dangerous electrical changes made more likely by the digitalis. Be on the lookout for symptoms of low potassium: You may feel shortness of breath and more wornout than usual with little exertion if your potassium is falling too low. Recommendation: Ask your physician to check the potassium level in your blood. If it is deficient, you will need to take more potassium. You can add some potassium into your diet by eating more foods rich in it, such as broccoli, tomatoes, orange juice, and bananas. Or you can add potassium to the foods you cook by using the product NO SALT, which is potassium in two forms. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per day.

•  Congestive Heart Failure diet: Coenzyme Q10 has proven beneficial in strengthening weak heart muscles, improving the pumping action of the heart and decreasing the "congestion" in the lungs, and reducing the amount of angina (heart muscle pain) in people with congestive heart failure. Recommendation: Take 30 mg of coenzyme Q10 1 to 3 times daily for at least 2 months to assess benefit. Warning: Do not discontinue this medication abruptly! You can suffer a rebound of symptoms from doing so. If you elect to stop taking this medication, do so in small increments: Decrease your dose by half, then by half again, then go to every other day, and then every third day, and finally off. While doing so, ask your personal physician to monitor your blood pressure and follow you closely through this period.

•  People on prescription therapies for congestive heart failure seem to be relieved of some of their shortness of breath, heart fluttering, lung congestion, and swelling when they also take the amino acid taurine. Although taurine has not yet been classified a "true" vitamin—that is, essential to human health—it is considered to be a "vitamin-like" nutrient. Dietary taurine comes chiefly from muscle meats and shellfish. Recommendation: Take 2 grams taurine 3 times daily for at least 1 month to assess your response.

•  Congestive Heart Failure diet: Essential fatty acids, the forerunners of the "good" prostaglandins, help to take some strain off the heart muscle by dilating the blood vessels and reducing blood pressure. These good messengers also improve the strength and function of the muscle itself. The improvement realized by careful diet control and the use of essential fatty acids can be remarkable: In one instance, this kind of regimen took a professional football player who had so destroyed his heart (by abusing anabolic steroids for muscle bulking) that his physicians put him on the list to receive a heart transplant or die to a man once again able to lift well over 300 pounds. Recommendation: Begin with a solid macronutrient framework, and to that sound base add gamma-linoleic acid and EPA fish oil—in a ratio of 1:4 (GLA:EPA) 1 to 3 times daily. The EicoPro essential fatty acid product manufactured by Eicotec, Inc., of Marblehead, Massachusetts, contains ultrapure sources of linoleic acid and fish oils already combined in the proper ratio. If you cannot get that product, you can purchase linoleic acid in a product called evening primrose oil at most health and nutrition stores, and EPA fish oil as well. Because it is not as pure a form, the milligram dosing will be different. You can make a reasonable substitute by combining evening primrose oil capsules with fish oil capsules plus vitamin E. Take 500 mg of evening primrose oil (a source of linoleic acid in capsule form), plus 1000 mg EPA fish oil, plus 200 IU vitamin E 1 to 3 times a day. (Warning to diabetics: EPA fish oil can cause blood sugar fluctuations in some diabetics. Carefully monitor your blood sugar if you use this supplemental oil and discontinue its use if your blood sugar becomes difficult to control.)

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