The symptoms of heart failure are related to the changes that occur to your heart and body, and may be moderate to severe, depending on how weak your heart is. The symptoms can include:
Congested lungs. Fluid back up in the lungs can cause shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying flat in bed. Lung congestion also causes a dry, hacking cough or wheezing.
Fluid and water retention. Less blood to your kidneys causes fluid and water retention, resulting in swollen ankles, legs, and abdomen (called edema) and weight gain. Symptoms may cause an increased need to urinate during the night. Bloating in your stomach may cause a loss of appetite or nausea.
Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. Less blood to your major organs and muscles makes you feel tired and weak. Less blood to the brain can cause dizziness or confusion.
Rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart beats faster to pump enough blood to the body. This causes a fast or irregular heartbeat.
If you have heart failure, you may have one or all of these symptoms or you may have none of them. In addition, your symptoms may not be related to how weak your heart is; you may have many symptoms but your heart function may be only mildly weakened. Or you may have a more severely damaged heart but have no symptoms.
Edema is the medical term for swelling. It is a general response of the body to injury or inflammation. Edema can be isolated to a small area or affect the entire body. Medications, infections, pregnancy, and many medical problems can cause edema.
Edema results whenever small blood vessels become "leaky" and release fluid into nearby tissues. The extra fluid accumulates, causing the tissue to swell.
If you have any of the above listed symptoms, be sure to see a doctor. Also, because heart failure can occur without symptoms, be sure to get a yearly doctor check-up so that any problems can be detected and treated.