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Heart Failure: Compensation by the Heart and Body - Topic Overview

What happens when your body can no longer compensate?

If your body can no longer compensate for heart failure, you will begin to have symptoms, which consist of two major types:

  • Congestive symptoms, which are caused by the backup of blood into the lungs and the other organs of the body. These symptoms include shortness of breath and swelling in the ankles and abdomen.
  • Low-output symptoms, which are caused by the inability of the heart to generate enough cardiac output, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. These symptoms may include lightheadedness, fatigue, and low urine output. If the cardiac output is very low, this can damage organs, particularly the kidneys.

How long does it take before the body stops compensating for heart failure? Your body can compensate for heart failure for a long time, often for many years. But the duration of compensation can be extremely variable and depends on the cause of your heart failure and whether you have other medical problems.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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