Congestive Heart Failure: Signs and Symptoms

Majdi Ashchi, DO, FACC, FSCAI, FABVM, FSVM
Medical Director

Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.  The pump or the ventricle has to be able to pump about 55% of its content with each heartbeat.

Certain disease conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease or hardening of the arteries) or high blood pressure, gradually leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.

Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes — such as exercising, reducing salt in your diet, managing stress and losing weight — can improve your quality of life. One way to prevent heart failure is to control conditions that cause heart failure.

Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when a person exerts himself or when he lies down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise or decrease exercise tolerance
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
  • Increased need to urinate at night or nocturia
  • Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)
  • Sudden weight gain from fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
  • Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack

 

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