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8 Heart Failure Symptoms


Sometimes, the heart might be unable to adequately pump blood throughout the body. This can eventually lead to heart failure.

Your heart could still be beating, but it would require some assistance to function more effectively.

Congestive heart failure, also known as CHF, is a condition in which your heart muscle becomes too frail to properly get filled up with blood or pump blood effectively throughout your body.

The body’s organs and muscles do not receive enough nutrients and oxygen as a result. This might cause fluid to build up in the body and make you feel weary or breathless.

The majority of the time, heart failure is a chronic disease, as opposed to heart attacks, which can occur suddenly and demand medical attention right away.

High blood pressure or heart attack are the two most leading causes that can lead to heart failure. It often affects adults over the age of 60 and affects more men than women.

Heart failure symptoms could suddenly become very severe. However, you can receive treatment for it that will help you manage the symptoms and you can lead a normal life.

Depending on what portion of your heart is affected, your body might experience different symptoms and signs.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the symptoms associated with heart failure.

Symptoms Of Heart Failure

The following are some symptoms of heart failure:

  1. Breathing Issues

    Breathing problems, dyspnea, breathlessness, and shortness of breath are brought on by several abnormal body functions linked to various health issues in the body.

    An individual may occasionally have shortness of breath when engaging in intense physical activity, such as when one is at a high altitude, or when working out to exhaustion.

    However, shortness of breath is a typical symptom of heart failure. It is brought on by the heart’s diminished capacity in filling and emptying blood from it.

    This may result in increased exerted pressure in the blood arteries around the lung.

    Some common symptoms related[1] to breathing issues in heart failure include-

    • Breathlessness during the night
    • The need for several pillows to support the head while sleeping
    • Breathing difficulties when lying down (this is a very specific symptom of heart failure)
    • Swelling of the legs or ankles
    • Fluid weight gain
    • Unusual fatigue during normal activity
    • Breathlessness when moving around
    • Coughing when lying down or during sleep
  2. Chest Pain

    When the heart muscle does not receive enough blood, your chest may feel uncomfortable and hurt. The sensation in your chest could be out of squeezing or pressure.

    Your back, abdomen, jaw, neck, arms, and shoulders may all experience discomfort as well.

    If this discomfort[2] becomes worse, you will require immediate medical attention to fend off a heart attack.

    An analog exists if chest pain is brought on by a deficiency in oxygen reaching the heart muscle. Even indigestion could be a symptom of chest pain.

    Some individuals might experience symptoms like shortness of breath, weariness, or chest pain from an asthma attack as well.

    A medical expert needs to evaluate chest pain. To determine whether it is because of heart problems and whether it is unstable or stable, your doctor will run you through some tests.

    Most likely, your healthcare examiner will inquire about your symptoms, conduct a physical examination, and ask about your family’s medical history.

  3. Weakness Or Fatigue

    A feeling of general weakness and fatigue are the most prevalent[3] symptoms and signs of heart failure.

    Another reason for fatigue could be when the body is not flushing waste materials as quickly as it should.

    People who suffer from heart failure feel exhausted most of the time and find it very difficult to carry out the simplest of tasks like walking up stairs or carrying groceries.

    Because the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood is declining, as a result, less blood reaches the tissues and muscles, resulting in fatigue or exhaustion.

    To track any changes, it’s a good practice to maintain a record of your energy levels after particular activities during the day.

    It’s crucial to keep in mind[4] that moderate exercise is advised in short intervals for those with heart failure as it helps to lessen the strain on the heart.

    If you start to notice that your energy levels are dwindling at a significant pace, this might be a warning indication that your problem of heart failure is deteriorating.

  4. Loss Of Appetite

    Heart failure has an impact on your appetite as well. You probably won’t feel like eating if you feel full, queasy, or bloated most of the time.

    This can occur when the digestive system’s blood circulation is compromised, interfering[5] with the digestive process.

    The volume of blood moving throughout the body diminishes as the heart works harder to pump it and as a result, there is less blood circulation in the body.

    Therefore, instead of less critical organs like the digestive system, more critical organs like the brain receive more blood.

    Try choosing foods that are easy to digest[6] if your appetite is too weak and that is the most nutritionally dense.

    Some individuals may attempt to eat smaller portions more often. This can help to lessen the sense of being full or bloated.

    Try to make eating more tolerable or enjoyable by talking with your doctor.

    Doctors do not usually recommend forcing a person with heart failure to eat a lot because it might be uncomfortable.

    Also, forcing meals cannot extend a heart failure person’s life or alter the course of the disease in its more serious stages.

  5. Congestion In Lungs

    Congestive heart failure is a well-known[7] cause of congestion in the lungs. In the lungs, fluid gets built up because of a weak heart.

    This leads to difficulty in breathing even when lying flat in bed or while resting. A wheezing or hacking, dry cough may be brought on by lung congestion.

    It usually develops in the hilar region of the lungs first, gradually the interstitial space gets filled, and lastly, the most severe form takes place, which is the flooding of the alveoli.

    The primary underlying mechanism of lung congestion is high pressure filling in the left ventricular, which results in elevated pulmonary venous hypertension.

    Fluid overload brought[8] on by either fluid redistribution or fluid retention causes an increase in left ventricular diastolic pressure.

    Fluid is forced into the alveoli of the lungs as a result of the very high pressure in these blood vessels.

    This slows down the lungs’ ability to exchange oxygen. Breathlessness is the outcome of these two causes working together.

  6. Rapid Heartbeat

    To make up for its diminished capacity in pumping blood efficiently throughout the body, the heart needs to beat faster.

    Patients might experience their heart beating out of rhythm, irregularly, or have palpitations.

    When your chest feels like it is racing, it indicates that your heart is beating either irregularly, too slowly, or too swiftly.

    Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent kind of fast heartbeat that results in an erratic and rapid heartbeat.

    Some treatments or drugs might also produce an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

    Bradycardia is the term for a heartbeat that is excessively slow while tachycardia[9] is the term for a heartbeat that is abnormally rapid.

    Your heart’s rhythm could be affected[10] by a variety of factors along with heart failure, including heart attacks, congenital cardiac problems, and stress.

  7. Swelling Of Ankles And Legs

    Foot swelling is a common indicator[11] of heart failure. Also, your legs, ankles, and tummy can swell as well.

    It’s crucial to visit your doctor to know the reason for swelling as there could be numerous potential causes.

    The swelling may go away by itself depending upon the cause if the cause is a minor one. But if the reason behind this swelling is heart failure, then it is here to stay.

    Make an appointment with your medical examiner if your family has a history of heart failure and any other risk factors to ensure that you can manage your problem as soon as feasible.

    Your doctor will modify your existing treatment plan or develop a new one if the cause of your swelling is a chronic problem, such as that heart failure.

  8. Fluid Retention

    Fluid retention is swelling in several parts of your body brought on by excessive fluid that gets accumulated in various tissues surrounding your body.

    Although it is common for fluid retention to affect any region of your body, it generally tends to show up more in the legs, ankles, feet, arms, and hands. Increased fluid levels are a key signal of heart failure.

    However, fluid retention can also be brought on by pregnancy, some medications, or an underlying illness, be it liver cirrhosis, kidney disease, or congestive heart failure.

    From swollen ankles to bloating in the stomach to exhaustion, chronic coughing, and nausea, the buildup of extra fluid in your body could manifest itself in numerous ways.

    At first, you may be inclined to assume that fluid retention has little to do[12] with your heart.

    However, to those with a history of heart failure, almost everyone indicated water retention, which might be problematic.


Heart failure symptoms can start gradually without showing any initial signs. They may first happen when you are highly active.

Over time, it might progress to such a degree that even while you’re sleeping, you may start to experience breathing issues and different symptoms.

Additionally, once your heart has already been harmed by a heart attack or any other issue, symptoms can arise unexpectedly.

Heart failure is a chronic condition. Dangerous cardiac rhythms might occur in people with heart failure disease. Defibrillators need to be placed in these persons.

Severe cardiac failure might also occur in some persons. Medication, various forms of treatment, and even surgery become ineffective at this point.

Altering your lifestyle, taking medication, and most importantly, addressing the underlying issue might help you to control heart failure.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Types of heart failure Created: January 25, 2018 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK481485/
  2. David H. Hickam. Chapter 9Chest Pain or Discomfort Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK416/
  3. Maria Polikandrioti, Fotios Kalafatakis, Ioannis Koutelekos, et al. Fatigue in heart failure outpatients: levels, associated factors, and the impact on quality of life Arch Med Sci Atheroscler Dis. 2019; 4: e103–e112.Published online 2019 May 28. doi: 10.5114/amsad.2019.85406
  4. Gaia Cattadori, Chiara Segurini, Anna Picozzi, et al. Exercise and heart failure: an update ESC Heart Fail. 2018 Apr; 5(2): 222–232.Published online 2017 Dec 13. doi: 10.1002/ehf2.12225
  5. Heart Failure Last updated August 17, 2022 Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/heartfailure.html
  6. Christina Andreae, Martje H L van der Wal, Dirk J van Veldhuisen, et al. Changes in Appetite During the Heart Failure Trajectory and Association With Fatigue, Depressive Symptoms, and Quality of Life J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2021 Nov-Dec;36(6):539-545. doi: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000756. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33136703/
  7. Ahmad Malik; Daniel Brito; Sarosh Vaqar, et al. Congestive Heart Failure Last Update: May 22, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430873/
  8. Pierpaolo Pellicori, Kuldeep Kaur, and Andrew L Clark Fluid Management in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure Card Fail Rev. 2015 Oct; 1(2): 90–95.doi: 10.15420/cfr.2015.1.2.90
  9. Allison Henning; Conrad Krawiec. Sinus Tachycardia Last Update: June 5, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553128/
  10. P Palatini, S Julius Elevated heart rate: a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease Clin Exp Hypertens. 2004 Oct-Nov;26(7-8):637-44. doi: 10.1081/ceh-200031959. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15702618/
  11. Causes and signs of edema Created: November 5, 2008 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279409/
  12. Kevin C. King; Samuel Goldstein. Congestive Heart Failure And Pulmonary Edema Last Update: July 1, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554557/

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