Registered dietitians have some new advice for your patients with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), now that the American Dietetic Association has published evidence-based guidelines for providing nutrition treatment to patients with these conditions.

According to the guidelines, people with heart failure should be referred to a registered dietitian for medical nutrition therapy.
Just a few visits can improve the individual’s dietary pattern and quality of life, reduce edema and fatigue, and may even help reduce hospitalizations.

Registered dietitians now advise clinically stable heart-failure patients to:

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• Consume the appropriate amount of protein every day.
• Restrict sodium intake to <2,000 mg/day.
• Consume folate in the form of food and/or a combination of B6, B12, and supplementation.
• Drink 48-64 oz of fluid daily, depending on fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. 

For COPD patients, registered dietitians following the new guidelines will focus on preventing and treating weight loss and related conditions. This entails assessing BMI and weight changes, body composition, and calorie needs and determining whether the disease has rendered the individual too weak to obtain, prepare, and consume the necessary nutrients.

COPD patients should be urged to consume the Recommended Dietary Allowances for antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the Adequate Intake for omega-3 fatty acids. They can choose medical food supplements based on their own preference rather than on the supplement’s percentage of fat or carbohydrates or other nutritional factors, since there isn’t much evidence to promote one macronutrient composition over another.