Swelling in ankles or feet continued...
The medical term for this swelling in the legs is pedal edema—"pedal"
refers to the feet and "edema" refers to the buildup of excess fluid. Heart
failure often causes what doctors call "pitting edema," meaning that applying
pressure to the swollen skin leaves an indentation in the skin. Doctors often
test for edema by pressing their thumb to the skin and seeing whether it leaves
an impression. You may see this yourself if you take off your shoes and socks
and find that your socks have left an impression in the skin of your ankles and
You may notice more
severe swelling if you have been eating too much salt, which causes your body
to retain fluid. Elevating your feet or wearing supportive stockings can help
relieve the swelling.
Urinating more often
In the earlier stages of
heart failure, some people need to urinate more
frequently during the night than during the day. This happens because during
the day, fluid and blood can pool in your legs while you are standing,
resulting in less blood in the circulation and, as a result, less blood flow to
At night when you lie down, blood and fluid in your legs reenter the
circulation and therefore increase the blood flow to your kidneys and the
amount of urine produced.
If your heart failure gets worse, your kidneys receive less and less
blood, both during the day and at night. As a result, the kidneys produce less
urine. If you are urinating infrequently or not at all, tell your doctor right
away because it may mean that the amount of blood your heart is pumping is
Sudden weight gain
Weight gain may be the first noticeable sign that you
have developed heart failure or that your heart failure is getting worse. The amount of weight gained varies greatly among people with heart failure, and it reflects the amount of sodium and water the body has retained.
A sudden weight gain may mean that excess fluid is building up in
your body because your heart failure is getting worse. It is a symptom of sudden heart failure.
Your doctor will probably ask you to weigh yourself every day. Know when to call your doctor if you suddenly gain weight.
Your doctor likely will work with you to manage changes in weight caused by fluid
retention. For example, if you have a weight increase of
2 lb (0.91 kg), your doctor may
recommend taking an additional diuretic that day.