Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2008 Yellosa Ladwa, Community Member, asks

Q: I am 70 yr old, undergone byepass in 1994. My heart is function 40% of its capacity. I am taking Lan

Lanoxin every alternate day except Sat. and Sun. Water retention in body is more and I take Lasix for that purpose. guide me to reduce water retention in my body. Shall I take advice from Urologist/ Nephrologist. Kidneys are normal. Advise

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Answers (1)
Martin Cane, M.D., Health Pro
7/27/08 11:56pm


Yellosa Ladwa


Thanks for your question. 


When you say your heart function is 40% of capacity, do you mean overall heart function, or are your referring to the ejection fraction of the heart which may have been determined by an echocardiogram.  If you are talking about ejection fraction, 40% is a bit low, but not as bad as 40% of overall heart function.  You need to clarify this with your doctor and get a better understanding of the your cardiac status.


You say your kidney function is normal, so a urologist and nephrologist is not needed at this time.  You need to follow the directions of the doctors who are managing your water retention and heart disease, and this should be your primary care physician and/or your cardiologist.  When fluid builds up, this is known as congestive heart failure, and if not controlled, can affect your breathing, especially when lying down. 


It's important to take your medication as prescribed, and follow all of the directions of your physicians.  Remember that fluid retention is strongly linked to sodium, and therefore salt intake.  You must limit the amount of sodium in your diet.  Your doctor(s) will tell you how much sodium you are allowed.  Usually, it's about 2000 milligrams (or 2 grams) within a 24 hour period of time.  One teaspoon of salt is about 2300 milligrams of sodium, so 2 grams would be slightly more than three quarters of a teaspoon.  I would recommend removing the salt shaker from the table, as well as not adding any salt to your cooked meals.  Start reading labels which now indicate nutritional information including the sodium content.  Keep track of it through the day and try to keep to your limit.  Remember that canned foods, especially soups, vegetables and meats, are very high in salt/sodium content.  Instead, choose fresh vegetables and fruits, or freshly prepared soups with out adding salt.  Stay away from snacks like chips, pretzels, popcorn, all of which are designed to create thirst, which brings us to my next suggestion.


In addition to limiting salt intake, you must also limit water/fluid intake.  Again, your will need guidance from your physician(s).  There is no set answer as everyone's situation is different.  When keeping track of your fluids for the day, it includes all liquids, not just water. 


Keep your activity level up.  Walking is great exercise, and it really helps in getting fluid out of your legs.  The muscle activity actually milks the fluid out of the tissues and into the bloodstream where your kidneys can do their job and remove the fluid.  Also sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time will promote fluid retention.  If you are sitting, try to keep your legs elevated to a height equal or higher than your heart.  That way gravity will be positive factor in removing fluid.


Also review our website for tips on living with heart disease.  Review the lifestyle changes and diet suggestions for assistance in keeping your salt level down.


Best wishes.


Martin Cane, M.D.

Nicoleannev, Community Member
5/10/11 11:28am
Hi.. My dad just had a hear attack.. Doctor says his heart is only working at 38%.. I would think he meant overall heart function. What does this mean exactly? Would he ever be able to live a "normal" life? Like take the dog for a walk.. Drive.. Swim..? Is his risk for sudden cardiac arrest very high? What can I do to prevent this? Also.. Do u have any statistics on years lived after such a severe heart attack? Please advise... Thank you.. Reply
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By Yellosa Ladwa, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/15/12, First Published: 07/27/08