Heart Failure Symptoms

Heart Failure Symptoms

The symptoms below can indicate the beginning of heart failure (acute) or might come and go after being told that you have heart failure (chronic).  

  • You might notice that you have trouble breathing when moving around or when lying down
  • You might feel extremely tired while showering, walking, or brushing your hair or teeth
  • You might also feel weak
  • You might have some swelling in your lower legs
  • Your ankles and feet may also be swollen
  • You might notice your heart sometimes beats fast when you are calm and still
  • Your heart might speed up and then slow down a few times
  • You might have difficulty doing your usual exercises
  • You might have a cough that will not go away
  • You might have some wheezing
  • You might cough up some white or pink (bloody) mucus
  • You might notice swelling in your belly or abdomen
  • You might notice a sudden increase in your weight because of the swelling
  • You might have nausea which might make you lose your appetite
  • You might feel like you cannot concentrate, or feel absentminded
  • If your heart failure was caused by a heart attack you might feel some chest pain
Heart Failure Symptoms

What Is Heart Failure

Heart Failure (HF) is when your heart is not able to push enough blood out to meet the needs of your body.  People with heart failure have trouble getting enough oxygen.  This is called shortness of breath (SOB).  People also feel very tired.  This extreme fatigue makes it hard to do housework, function at work, and be an effective parent.

Two other terms that are often confused with HF are heart attack and cardiac arrest.

When someone has a heart attack, they usually get a painful sensation in their chest that is often described as ‘an elephant sitting on my chest’.  A heart attack happens when there is a blockage in a cardiac artery that prevents blood from getting to part of the heart. The heart is a muscle that needs good blood supply in order for the heart muscle to squeeze the blood out to the body.  The heart muscle starts to die without good blood supply.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops completely.  The person collapses and does not have a heartbeat. This is caused by a problem with the electrical activity in the heart. The electrical activity is what we see on and electrocardiogram (EKG). The heart is not able to squeeze and push the blood forward without the electrical activity, so the heart just stops beating.