At first you may not have any symptoms from heart failure. For a while, your heart and body can make up for heart failure. For example, your heart can pump faster and pump more blood with each beat. This is called Reference compensation.
But as your heart has more trouble pumping enough blood to your body, you will likely have symptoms. These symptoms may get worse or change if your heart failure gets worse.
Symptoms of heart failure start to happen when your heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of your body. In the early stages, you may:
- Feel tired easily.
- Be short of breath when you exert yourself.
- Feel like your heart is pounding or racing (Reference palpitations Opens New Window).
- Feel weak or dizzy.
As heart failure gets worse, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This may cause you to:
- Feel short of breath even at rest.
- Have swelling (edema), especially in your legs, ankles, and feet.
- Gain weight. This may happen over just a day or two, or more slowly.
- Cough or wheeze, especially when you lie down.
- Need to urinate more at night.
- Feel bloated or sick to your stomach.
How doctors talk about heart failure
Heart failure is grouped—or Reference classified—according to symptoms. Your treatment is based partly on what class of symptoms you have.
There's also another way to define heart failure. It's based on the Reference stages you might go through as your heart failure gets worse. Your doctor also may make treatment choices based on your stage of heart failure.
Symptoms of sudden heart failure
Sometimes your symptoms may get worse very quickly. This is called sudden heart failure. It causes fluid to build up in your lungs, causing congestion. (This is why the problem is often called congestive heart failure.) Symptoms may include:
- Severe shortness of breath.
- An irregular or fast heartbeat.
- Coughing up foamy, pink mucus.
Sudden heart failure is an emergency. You need care right away.
- Reference Heart Failure Symptoms
- Reference Heart Failure: Less Common Symptoms
- Reference Cardiac Cachexia
- Reference Heart Failure Complications
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Reference Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
- Topic Overview
- Health Tools
- What Increases Your Risk
- When to Call a Doctor
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment Overview
- Living With Heart Failure
- Coping With Your Feelings
- Other Treatment
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information