The symptoms of heart failure are related to the changes that occur to your heart and body, and may be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how weak your heart is. The symptoms can include:
Congested lungs. Fluid backup 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.
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.