To provide a conceptual rationale for targeted self-management strategies for breathlessness in chronic heart failure. Breathlessness is a defining symptom of chronic heart failure and is the primary cause for hospital readmissions and emergency room visits, resulting in extensive health care utilization. Chronic breathlessness, punctuated by acute physiological decompensation, is a sentinel symptom of the heart failure syndrome and often intensifies towards the end of life. Drawing upon evidence-based guidelines, physiological mechanisms and existing conceptual models for the management of breathlessness is proposed. Key elements of this model include adherence to evidence-based approaches (pharmacological and non-pharmacological management to optimize heart failure treatment), self-monitoring of symptoms, identification of modifiable factors (such as fluid overload), and targeted strategies for breathlessness including distraction and gas flow. Self-management is an essential component in heart failure management which could positively influences health outcomes and quality of life. Refining programs to focus on breathlessness may have the potential to reduce symptom burden and improve quality of life.