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Symptoms of Heart failure

Symptoms of Heart failure: Introduction

Symptoms of heart failure can vary between individuals and can differ depending on the severity of the disease and the underlying cause. In some cases, an individual may not have symptoms until the disease has progressed and become severe. Early symptoms can develop slowly.

The primary symptom of heart failure is shortness of breath, which can occur at rest or with exertion. Shortness of breath often occurs when lying down and can interrupt sleep. It can be relieved to various degrees by sleeping in a semi-upright position.

Congestion and fluid in the lungs also leads to wheezing, chest pain, and an ongoing cough that brings up frothy phlegm that may be blood tinged. Fluid in the lungs also increases the risk of developing infections of the lungs, such as pneumonia, which can be fatal in some cases.

Symptoms can also include swelling (edema) of the feet, ankles, and legs. In severe cases, swelling can occur in the abdomen and arms as well. General symptoms include weakness, fatigue, and dizziness, confusion, restlessness, anxiety, and an alteration in consciousness, because the brain and body are not getting sufficient oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Paleness, or cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of the lips, feet and hands, may also occur.

Heart failure is not always fatal, but serious complications can occur, including arrhythmias. Certain arrhythmias that may occur with heart failure are fatal if not immediately treated and can result in cardiac arrest and death. Another life-threatening complication of heart failure is acute pulmonary edema, in which large amounts of fluid accumulate in the lungs....more about Heart failure »

Symptoms of Heart failure

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Heart failure includes the 22 symptoms listed below:

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Heart failure: Symptom Checkers

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Heart failure: Symptom Assessment Questionnaires

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Heart failure: Complications

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Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing of medical conditions related to Heart failure:

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Do I have Heart failure?

Heart failure: Medical Mistakes

Heart failure: Undiagnosed Conditions

Diseases that may be commonly undiagnosed in related medical areas:

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical tests related to Heart failure:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Heart failure?

The list of other diseases or medical conditions that may be on the differential diagnosis list of alternative diagnoses for Heart failure includes:

Heart failure: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other Possible Causes of these Symptoms

Click on any of the symptoms below to see a full list of other causes including diseases, medical conditions, toxins, drug interactions, or drug side effect causes of that symptom.

Article Excerpts About Symptoms of Heart failure:

A number of symptoms are associated with heart failure, but none is specific for the condition. Perhaps the best known symptom is shortness of breath ("dyspnea") . In heart failure, this may result from excess fluid in the lungs. The breathing difficulties may occur at rest or during exercise. In some cases, congestion may be severe enough to prevent or interrupt sleep.

Fatigue or easy tiring is another common symptom. As the heart's pumping capacity decreases, muscles and other tissues receive less oxygen and nutrition, which are carried in the blood. Without proper "fuel," the body cannot perform as much work, which translates into fatigue.

Fluid accumulation, or edema, may cause swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, and occasionally, the abdomen. Excess fluid retained by the body may result in weight gain, which sometimes occurs fairly quickly.

Persistent coughing is another common sign, especially coughing that regularly produces mucus or pink, blood-tinged sputum. Some people develop raspy breathing or wheezing.

Because heart failure usually develops slowly, the symptoms may not appear until the condition has progressed over years. The heart hides the underlying problem by making adjustments that delay--but do not prevent--the eventual loss in pumping capacity. The heart adjusts, or compensates, in three ways to cope with and hide the effects of heart failure:

  • Enlargement ("dilatation"), which allows more blood into the heart;

  • Thickening of muscle fibers ("hypertrophy") to strengthen the heart muscle, which allows the heart to contract more forcefully and pump more blood; and

  • More frequent contraction, which increases circulation.
By making these adjustments, or compensating, the heart can temporarily make up for losses in pumping ability, sometimes for years. However, compensation has its limits. Eventually, the heart cannot offset the lost ability to pump blood, and the signs of heart failure appear. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Heart Failure: NHLBI)

Heart failure as a Cause of Symptoms or Medical Conditions

When considering symptoms of Heart failure, it is also important to consider Heart failure as a possible cause of other medical conditions. The Disease Database lists the following medical conditions that Heart failure may cause:

- (Source - Diseases Database)

Heart failure as a symptom:

For a more detailed analysis of Heart failure as a symptom, including causes, drug side effect causes, and drug interaction causes, please see our Symptom Center information for Heart failure.

Medical articles and books on symptoms:

These general reference articles may be of interest in relation to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general:

About signs and symptoms of Heart failure:

The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Heart failure. This signs and symptoms information for Heart failure has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Heart failure signs or Heart failure symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Heart failure may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Heart failure symptoms.


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