Signs of Heart Failure


“I found myself getting fatigued and easily out of breath, with swollen ankles and abdomen. My asthma was normally under control, but I turned to my asthma specialist because of the shortness of breath. He noticed my swollen ankles and said he didn’t think my problem was asthma. I had begun to think the same thing. He told me to see my internist right away who referred me to a cardiologist who gave me a diagnosis in words that roll off the tongue of a heart specialist but shock the patient who hears them: “idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and biventricular congestive heart failure.”  – Mary Knudson

As your heart has more trouble pumping enough blood to your body, you will likely feel tired easily, be short of breath when you exert yourself, feel like your heart is pounding.

As heart failure gets worse, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This may cause you to feel short of breath even at rest, have swelling (edema), especially in your legs, ankles, and feet, gain weight, cough or wheeze, especially when you lie down, need to urinate more at night, feel bloated and sick to your stomach.

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