Table of Contents
- Congestive heart failure facts
- What is congestive heart failure (CHF)?
- What causes congestive heart failure?
- What are the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure?
- What are the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure? (Continued)
- What are the risk factors for congestive heart failure?
- How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
- What tests diagnose congestive heart failure?
- What is the treatment for congestive heart failure?
- What about diet, exercise, fluid management, and weight control?
- Fluid regulation
- Weight maintenance
- What is the long-term prognosis for patients with congestive heart failure?
- Can congestive heart failure be prevented?
- How does someone cope with congestive heart failure?
Quick GuideAm I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart Disease
What are the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure?
Shortness of breath
The hallmark and most common symptom of left heart failure is shortness of breath and may occur.
- while at rest
- with activity or exertion
- while lying flat (orthopnea)
- while awakening the person from sleep (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea); or
- due to fluid (water, mainly) accumulation in the lungs or the inability of the heart to be efficient enough to pump blood to the organs of the body when called upon in times of exertion or stress.
Right heart failure, left heart failure, or both
- Patients with right heart failure leak fluid into the tissue and organs that deliver blood to the right heart through the vena cava.
- Back pressure in capillary blood vessels cause them to leak water into the space between cells and commonly the fluid can be found in the lowest parts of the body.
- Gravity causes fluid to accumulate in the feet and ankles but as more fluid accumulates, it may creep up to involve all of the lower legs.
- Fluid can also accumulate within the liver causing it to swell (hepatomegaly) and also within the abdominal cavity (ascites).
- Ascites and hepatomegaly may make the patient feel bloated, nauseated, and have abdominal pain with the feeling of distension.
- Depending upon their underlying illness and the clinical situation, patients may have symptoms of right heart failure, left heart failure, or both.
Roger, Veronique L., et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. "Heart disease and stroke statistics -- 2011 update: a report from the American Heart Association." Circulation 123.4 (2011): e18-e209.
Ho, K. K., et al. "The epidemiology of heart failure: the Framingham Study." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 22.4 Suppl A (1993): 6A-13A.