Heart Failure: Less Common Symptoms - Topic Overview
These symptoms usually occur only in people with chronic, severe
heart failure. If your extremities suddenly become cold and clammy, and other
symptoms of heart failure, such as fluid buildup (edema), mental confusion, or
decreased urine, are becoming worse, you may be going into shock. Shock
develops when the amount of blood your heart is pumping becomes critically low.
If you experience signs of shock, you will need immediate medical
What happens when the brain doesn't get enough blood? When the body can no longer compensate adequately for the failing
heart, blood circulation to the brain will start to drop. Without enough blood,
the brain does not function well, resulting in lightheadedness and/or mental
Lightheadedness is a sensation of dizziness or mild disorientation.
People with heart failure may also experience lightheadedness as a side effect
of certain medications.
When blood flow to the brain becomes critically low, people with
heart failure may experience an inability to think clearly. Specifically, they
may have problems with their memory or with understanding language. This can be
particularly dangerous because it can prevent people with severe symptoms from
being able to report them to their doctor.
Mental confusion resulting from heart failure means that the amount
of blood the heart is pumping is critically low. Typically, this level of
impairment occurs in people who are already hospitalized with heart failure. If
this is not the case, someone with heart failure who experiences mental
confusion needs to see a doctor immediately.
What causes impotence in men with heart failure?
Some men with heart failure cannot achieve an erection (impotence). The specific cause of this impotence can vary.
In some cases it results from low blood flow to the genitals caused by the
failing heart. In other cases, it can happen as a result of the buildup of
plaque (atherosclerosis) in the arteries that supply blood to the genitals.
Atherosclerosis in the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary artery
disease) is often what causes heart failure in men who experience impotence.
In addition, impotence can be the result of depression or other
psychological factors related to heart failure. Certain medicines used to
treat heart failure may also cause impotence.