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What're the symptoms of congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure symptoms and signs include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, abrupt shortness of breath at night, occasional wheezing, and cough. There can also be a sense of fullness in the belly, ankle swelling and sometimes abdominal swelling. Other symptoms may include low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, cold sweaty skin,

crackles in the lungs (rales), and engorged veins in the neck.

Symptoms of congestive heart failure depend upon the side of the heart that is affected. Left-side congestive heart failure causes fatigue and shortness of breath during even mild exertion. Other symptoms include a wheezing or hacking cough and shortness of breath during sleep, called orthopnea. One particularly serious symptom is pulmonary edema, a condition in which fluids accumulate in the lungs. Right-side congestive heart failure reduces the amount of blood returning to the heart. The main symptom is swelling, usually of the feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen, as the veins and tissues throughout the body fill up with the excess fluid. Patients with right-heart failure often feel tired, have little appetite, and experience weight gain because they retain so much salt and water. With treatment, patients may live with right-heart failure for many years. Because of the risk of pulmonary edema, left-heart failure is more life threatening.

The symptoms of congestive heart failure vary among individuals according to the particular organ systems involved and depending on the degree to which the rest of the body has "compensated" for the heart muscle weakness. An early symptom of congestive heart failure is fatigue. While fatigue is a sensitive indicator of possible underlying congestive heart failure, it is obviously a nonspecific symptom that may be caused by many other conditions. The person's ability to exercise may also diminish. Patients may not even sense this decrease and they may subconsciously reduce their activities to accommodate this limitation.

As the body becomes overloaded with fluid from congestive heart failure, swelling (edema) of the ankles and legs may be noticed. In addition, fluid may accumulate in the lungs, thereby causing shortness of breath, particularly during exercise and when lying flat. In some instances, patients are awakened at night, gasping for air. Some may be unable to sleep unless sitting upright. The extra fluid in the body may cause increased urination, particularly at night. Accumulation of fluid in the liver and intestines may cause nausea, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite.

More information on congestive heart failure

What is congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively to the body. Heart failure is a degenerative condition caused by weakening of the heart muscle.
What causes congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the heart muscle, including a heart attack or heart infection; coronary artery disease.
What're the symptoms of congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure symptoms and signs include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, abrupt shortness of breath at night, occasional wheezing, and cough.
How is congestive heart failure diagnosed? - Congestive heart failure is a clinical diagnosis. Diagnosis usually is confirmed by physical examination, patient history, and various tests.
What treatments cure congestive heart failure? - The treatment of congestive heart failure focused on treating the symptoms and signs of congestive heart failure and preventing the progression of disease.
What heart failure medications are available? - Heart failure medications include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), diuretics (water pills).
How to prevent congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be prevented through adjusting diet, monitoring weight, onitor your weight, fluid intake, smoking cessation.
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