Dangers of Dehydration: A Primer for Patients With Heart Failure

July 7, 2009

Patients with heart failure are often hospitalized for dehydration and acute renal failure. Thus, they need to be educated about dehydration as well as about the signs of fluid retention.

Patients with heart failure are often hospitalized for dehydration and acute renal failure. Thus, they need to be educated about dehydration as well as about the signs of fluid retention. Make it a habit to tell patients with heart failure the following:

  • If you have diarrhea, vomiting, poor fluid intake because of illness, fever, or excessive sweating (such as from working outside on a hot day), consider holding some or all of your diuretics for a day-or for the duration of the illness-and monitoring your weight.
  • Signs of dehydration include dizziness, dry mouth, weight below your normal range, fatigue or general malaise in the absence of obvious illness, reduced urine output, low blood pressure, and fast heart rate.
  • Drinking extra fluid will not compensate for a dehydrated state.
  • If you believe you are dehydrated and are unsure what to do, contact your primary care provider within 48 hours of the onset of the condition-or earlier if you notice the symptoms mentioned above.

-Connie Jaenicke, NP
    Minneapolis

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