Heart failure is one of the most expensive and growing health problems in the United States. It’s estimated that over 6 million Americans experience heart failure in a year, and the problem costs our health care system $30.7 billion each year.
Despite the seriousness of the condition, many people don’t know the signs and symptoms of heart failure.
Keep in mind that heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart completely stops beating. Hearts going through failure are severely damaged but can still retain some function. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of heart failure so you can get yourself or a loved one to the hospital immediately.
Unsure of what you should be looking for if you’re concerned about heart failure? Here’s a quick primer.
What Is Heart Failure?
As previously mentioned, having heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped beating or working entirely. Health professionals use the term heart failure to describe a heart that isn’t performing the way it should.
Did you know that there are two different types of heart failure that can occur? Chronic heart failure is the more common failure of the two, and the symptoms associated with it appear slowly and gradually get worse.
Acute heart failure can come about suddenly and the usual symptoms are severe. It could happen after a heart attack due to damage caused during the episode. It could come from your body being unable to cope with chronic heart failure.
Spotting the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure
When you’re experiencing heart failure, time is absolutely crucial for recovery. The faster you can see a doctor that can treat your issues, the better off patients will be in the long run.
It’s important to note that one or two symptoms on their own may not be cause for concern, but multiple ones are. If you or a loved one starts to experience these symptoms, make sure you find a doctor ASAP.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea) is a common symptom of heart failure because of how it affects oxygen. Once your heart is unable to give your body an adequate supply of oxygen you may find that your breath gets short when you’re exerting yourself or even when you’re lying down.
Rapid Weight Gain
Most people associate weight loss with illness, but suddenly gaining weight could be a sign that you’re experiencing heart failure.
Fluid retention is a common side effect of heart failure. You may notice swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles because of poor circulation.
Irregular Heartbeat and Chest Pain
These are symptoms that should never be ignored regardless of if you suspect heart failure or not. These symptoms are common in people that are suffering from acute heart failure after a heart attack but can occur in people that have chronic heart failure.
Do you feel like you get more tired from doing simple tasks? Have your workouts become less intense because you feel tired and achy? This can be a sign of heart failure when accompanied by other symptoms on this list.
Your Life, Your Health
The signs and symptoms of heart failure should never be ignored. Knowing the difference between having an off day and experiencing a cardiac problem can be the difference between life and death.
Want to learn how to have a healthier heart? Do you want to do more to take control of your health? Browse our health posts so you can learn more about your mind and body.