Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped working. It does mean that your heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the demands of your body. Another term that is sometimes used is “Heart inefficiency”. In turn, heart failure treatments aim to restore that efficiency as much as possible.
For more information on heart failure please see here.
There are three main common symptoms of heart failure:
1. Shortness of breath: particularly on activity or exertion, such as going up an incline, or a flight of stairs, or perhaps doing housework or lifting something. You may find that you cannot walk as fast or as long as previously. It is important to recognize this as early as possible, as left untreated, this might progress to the point where someone is getting breathless with very little activity or even while lying in bed at night.
2. Weight gain or swelling: particularly in your ankles/legs or your abdomen. The swelling is caused by excess fluid which the inefficient heart is unable to process.
3. Fatigue: this is fatigue that is different from just being tired at the end of the day or after work – this is more of a complete lack of energy often not tied to activity.
Other symptoms may be present depending on the particular cause of the heart failure or if it has become more advanced – but these are the three cardinal symptoms to look out for.
If you are concerned that you have some or all of these symptoms please contact your doctor for advice.