If you or a loved one has heart failure, you probably know how important good daily habits are to treatment. A healthy weight, active lifestyle, and proper medication are all key ways to take charge of the disease.
But even you’ve been carefully following doctor’s orders, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for the return of symptoms. That’s because heart failure can be under control for a time and then become an issue again.
Doctors diagnose heart failure by taking a medical history and conducting a physical exam and tests.
During the medical history your doctor will want to know if:
You have any other health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease, angina (chest pain), high blood pressure, or other heart problems
You drink alcohol, and if so, how much
You are taking medications.
During the physical, the doctor will check your blood pressure, use a stethoscope to hear sounds associated with...
Keep up with your regular checkups, and know which symptoms may mean your treatment needs to be tweaked.
1. Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
When your heart can’t properly fill and empty, blood backs up in your veins. This causes fluid to leak into your lungs. Your doctor may call it pulmonary edema. This can make it hard to breathe during activities, rest, or even sleep. You may be woken up by sudden breathlessness. Maybe you’ll need to prop yourself up with extra pillows to breathe easier. This constant search for air can leave you tired and anxious.
When your heart isn’t pumping right, the body starts to move blood from less vital parts like your arms and legs to the centers for survival -- the heart and brain. This can leave you feeling exhausted after everyday activities.
3. Persistent cough
An ongoing wheeze or cough that brings up white or slightly blood-colored mucus can be another symptom of fluid building up in your lungs. Call the doctor if you notice it.
4. Weight gain or swelling
Just as fluid can build up in your lungs when the heart fails to properly pump blood, fluid can also increase in your tissues. This can be made worse by the fact that your kidneys get rid of sodium and water. As a result, your feet, ankles, legs, or belly may swell. This can cause shoes and socks to feel tight. It may also cause a seemingly sudden change in weight.
5. Lack of appetite or nausea
Because blood is being moved away from your digestive system, your appetite may not be as big as it usually is. You might also feel a bit nauseous.