The doctor’s treatment of a failing heart is designed to take work off the heart, help to get rid of excess fluid, and improve the heart’s action. The person with congestive failure of the heart is like a man who is going bankrupt because his income and assets have been sharply reduced. He has to cut down immediately on expenditures, and maintain a rigid conservation of what he has.
In this condition the patient must depend on the doctor to outline his conduct for him. If the man must earn his living, he must get home after work as soon as possible and spend every moment he can actually resting; this applies equally to the use of the week-end. The person with a weak heart must avoid climbing stairs; must never lift heavy objects or carry packages. Every source of tension, including family disagreements and arguments, must be eliminated. In this condition, above every other, moderation is the key word. Excess of tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol is a serious misdemeanor for the patient with congestive heart failure.
While rest must be the objective, enough movement must be employed to keep muscles alive. The simplest kind of household activity or, for some, a few holes of golf on a flat course may be desirable. Avoidance of boredom is also necessary, and for this purpose congenial conversation, selected reading, and simple card games, chess or checkers, may be helpful.
With this routine the weight must be kept down by a low calorie, principally protein, diet. Infections must be prevented and promptly cared for if they occur. For those who can afford it, visits to resorts or spas, quiet ocean voyages, and residence in warm dry climates are recommended.