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Heart Failure Health Center

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When to Call the Doctor About Your Heart Failure

The key to managing heart failure is to take your medications, make dietary changes, 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 have:

  • Unexplained weight gain -- 2 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in one week
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen that has become worse
  • Shortness of breath that has become worse or occurs more often, especially if you wake up short of breath
  • A feeling of fullness (bloating) in your stomach with a loss of appetite or nausea
  • Extreme fatigue or decreased ability to complete daily activities
  • A respiratory (lung) infection or a cough that has become worse
  • Fast heart rate (around 120 beats per minute)
  • New irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort during activity that is relieved with rest
  • Difficulty breathing during regular activities or at rest
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty sleeping or feeling the need to sleep a lot more than usual
  • Decreased urination
  • Restlessness, confusion
  • Constant dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or poor appetite

Always keep the following close to your phone for easy access: A list of your doctors' phone numbers, a current list of your medications and dosages, as well as any allergies you have

Recommended Related to Heart Failure

Heart Failure and Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don't get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able -- either physically or financially. Caregivers who are "burned out" may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their...

Read the Heart Failure and Caregiver Burnout article > >

When Should I Seek Emergency Care for Heart Failure?

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

  • New chest pain or discomfort that is severe, unexpected, and occurs with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or weakness
  • 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
  • Sudden onset of a severe headache
  • Fainting spell with loss of consciousness

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on May 23, 2014

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