How do I manage my fluid restriction in hot weather?
I have heart failure and have been told to limit my fluids, but I feel thirsty when it’s hot. What can I do?
Senior Cardiac Nurse Emily Reeve says:
We all need to drink more in hot weather and those with heart failure are no exception. Becoming dehydrated can lead to lower blood pressure, which may cause dizziness, so it’s important to achieve the right balance. Chat to your GP or heart failure nurse, who can support you and help you manage your fluid intake at such times.
A fluid restriction is used as a way to avoid overloading your heart if you have heart failure, as more fluid in your bloodstream makes it harder for your heart to pump. For the same reason, your doctor may prescribe a medicine known as a diuretic, or water tablet, to help get rid of excess fluid. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking it in hot weather, when you have no fluid retention or when your blood pressure gets too low.
If you feel thirsty, try chewing gum, a sugar-free mint, or pieces of frozen fruit
If you’re on a fluid restriction, record your fluid intake to check you are within your daily limit. This may need adjusting in warmer weather. You should also record foods that contain a lot of water, like gravy, fruit (especially watermelon), yoghurt, jelly, ice lollies, sorbet and soup.
If you feel thirsty, try chewing gum, a sugar-free mint, or pieces of frozen fruit (such as grapes or strawberries). You can also rinse your mouth with water, but don’t swallow it. If your lips feel dry, try lip balm.
It’s also important to restrict salt, which makes your body hold extra fluid. But in warm weather you lose salt in sweat, so if you are having leg cramps, increasing salt intake may help.
Weighing yourself daily is useful too. If you suddenly gain more than 2kg (4lb 6oz) in three days, see your doctor.
Meet the expert
Emily Reeve has worked in general and cardiology nursing. She also has experience working in cardiac rehabilitation.