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    When to Call the Doctor About Your Heart Failure

    The key to managing heart failure is to take your medicines, make proper changes to your diet, live a healthy lifestyle, and keep your doctor's appointments.

    Your doctor will tell you how often you need to visit. But if you have any unusual symptoms, do not wait until your next appointment to discuss them with your doctor. Call your doctor immediately if you:

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    Understanding Heart Failure -- the Basics

    Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body. This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs. With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water. In...

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    • Gain 2 or more pounds in 1 day or 5 or more pounds in 1 week
    • Have swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen that’s gotten worse
    • Have shortness of breath that has gotten worse or is happening more often, especially if you wake up short of breath
    • Feel bloated with a loss of appetite or nausea
    • Are really tired or have a harder time doing daily activities
    • Have a respiratory (lung) infection or a cough that has gotten worse
    • Get a fast heart rate (around 120 beats per minute)
    • Have a new irregular heartbeat
    • Feel chest pain or discomfort during activity that gets better if you rest
    • Have trouble breathing during regular activities or if you’re resting
    • Sleep differently, including if you have trouble sleeping or you feel like you need to sleep a lot more than usual
    • Don’t pee as much
    • Feel restless or confused
    • Get dizzy or lightheaded
    • Feel nauseous or don’t want to eat much

    Always keep the following close to your phone for easy access:

    • A list of your doctors' phone numbers
    • A list of your medications and dosages, as well as any allergies you have


    When Should I Seek Emergency Care for Heart Failure?

    Go to your local emergency room or call 9-1-1 if you have:

    • New chest pain or discomfort that’s severe, unexpected, and comes with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or weakness
    • A fast heart rate (more than 120-150 beats per minute) -- especially if you are short of breath
    • Shortness of breath not relieved by rest
    • Sudden weakness or paralysis (inability to move) in your arms or legs
    • A sudden or severe headache
    • A fainting spell with loss of consciousness

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on July 21, 2016

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