The Earliest Symptoms Of Heart Failure Are Often Very Subtle But Its Dangerous To Ignore Them
Its an unfortunate truth that your body slows down in your sixth and seventh decades. Climbing a flight of stairs that you once took two at a time can now feel as daunting as scaling Mount Everest. While some degree of vitality loss can be attributed to natural aging, fatigue and breathlessness may also be signals that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. There is a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and attribute them to just getting older. Therefore, it was very important for us to create an easy way to identify those symptoms, says Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Womens Hospital.
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What Is A Heart Attack
Heart attack signs and symptoms in men and women: Chest pain or discomfort Shortness of breath Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulder Feeling nauseous, light-headed, or unusually tired.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
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Signs Of Worsening Heart Failure
While some signs and symptoms of heart failure may not be an emergency, they can worsen if you do not take action immediately. If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or healthcare provider and let them know:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain of three or more pounds in one day
- Weight gain of five pounds in one week
- Unusual swelling in the legs, feet, hands, or abdomen
- A persistent cough or chest congestion
- Increasing fatigue or a sudden decrease in your ability to do normal activities
- A loss of appetite or nausea
- A feeling of fullness or bloating in your stomach
- Confusion or restlessness
These symptoms may be early signs that fluid is building up and your heart failure is getting worse. If you have these symptoms, let your doctor or nurse know as quickly as possible. Be careful about showering or getting into hot water, which may result in dizziness and lightheadedness as a result of lowered blood pressure. When bathing or showering, try lukewarm water instead. Make sure the water is not more warm than your body temperature.
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Early And Subtle Symptoms Also Can Be Harbingers Of Worsening
For the more than 6 million Americans that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says have heart failure, a new report from heart health experts could provide an invaluable early warning.
The American Heart Association published new research in its medical journal Circulation on Thursday, listing some of the most common early heart failure symptoms individuals should look out for.
Specifically, the AHA listed symptoms associated with acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, valvular disorders, stroke, rhythm disorders, and peripheral vascular disease. Heart failure, generally speaking, happens when the organ simply cant pump enough blood to the rest of the body but warning signs could increase the likelihood that patients could get ahead of the condition with medication, surgery or lifestyle changes.
Early and subtle symptoms also can be harbingers of worsening and impending hospitalization or death, the AHA said in its report.
Heres a quick list of early warning signs the organization wants folks to pay attention to:
Fatigue was listed as the most common symptom.
Gastrointestinal symptoms like an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea
Combined, fatigue and breathlessness can lead to a lack of activity and therefore muscle wasting, which the AHA says is an indicator that heart failure in a patient is getting worse
Recognizing And Treating Heart Failure Sooner Rather Than Later May Slow Progression Of This Serious Condition
If you start feeling a bit more tired or winded than normal, its easy to write it off to growing older or being out of shape or overweight. But if these symptoms persist, dont ignore them especially if you also notice swelling in your ankles and difficulty breathing when you lie down.
These are all classic symptoms of early heart failure, which happens when the heart isnt able to pump effectively enough to deliver blood throughout the body . Recent developments in both detection and treatment may help ease the burden of heart failure, which is a leading cause of hospitalization in people 65 and older.
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What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
What Are The Types Of Heart Failure
There are many causes of heart failure, but the condition is generally broken down into these types:
Left-sided heart failure
Heart failure with reduced left ventricular function The lower left chamber of your heart gets bigger and cannot squeeze hard enough to pump the right amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.
Heart failure with preserved left ventricular function Your heart contracts and pumps normally, but the bottom chambers of your heart are thicker and stiffer than normal. Because of this, your ventricles can’t relax properly and fill up all the way. Because there’s less blood in your ventricles, your heart pumps out less blood to the rest of your body when it contracts.
Right-sided heart failure
Heart failure can also affect the right side of your heart. Left-sided heart failure is the most common cause of this. Other causes include certain lung problems and issues in other organs.
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Signs Of Heart Failure Progression
As heart failure progresses, your symptoms will most likely worsen. You may also begin to experience:
- Shortness of breath: Fluid may leak into the lungs, causing breathlessness, especially during physical activity. As your condition progresses, this symptom may also occur while youre at rest.
- Irregular heartbeat: A weakened heart may develop arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat. You may feel like your heart is racing, fluttering or skipping a beat.
- Coughing: Because heart failure may cause fluid to build up in your lungs, you may experience persistent coughing. Some people cough up white mucus tinged with blood.
- Confusion or memory loss: A lack of nutrients in your blood can cause confusion and disorientation.
- Abdominal pain: Restricted blood flow to your digestive system makes it challenging for your body to process food. You may lose your appetite or feel sick to your stomach. Fluid retention may also cause swelling and pain in this area.
You Get Exhausted Easily
If you suddenly feel fatigued or winded after doing something you had no problem doing in the past — like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries from the car — make an appointment with your doctor right away.
“These types of significant changes are more important to us than every little ache and pain you might be feeling,” Bufalino says.
Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of heart disease, especially for women.
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Confusion Or Difficulty Concentrating
According to the AHA: Changing levels of certain substances in the blood, such as sodium, can cause confusion. This may present as memory loss or feelings of disorientation, both signs that may be noticed by a caregiver or relative before the actual patient. Either way, these are signs of heart failureâas well as other serious medical conditionsâand should be addressed with a doctor as soon as possible.
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The Earliest Symptoms Of Heart Failure Are Often Very Subtle But It’s Dangerous To Ignore Them
It’s an unfortunate truth that your body slows down in your sixth and seventh decades. Climbing a flight of stairs that you once took two at a time can now feel as daunting as scaling Mount Everest. While some degree of vitality loss can be attributed to natural aging, fatigue and breathlessness may also be signals that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. “There is a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and attribute them to just getting older. Therefore, it was very important for us to create an easy way to identify those symptoms,” says Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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Sudden Or Rapid Weight Gain
In addition to fluid building up in your extremities, edema can occur throughout the entire body, which may result in sudden, unexplained weight gain. This is not only a common sign of both acute and chronic heart failure, according to the Mayo Clinic, but being overweight puts added stress on your heart and can be a common cause of heart problems such as stroke and heart attack.
Heart Failure Signs And Symptoms
By themselves, any one sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have more than one of these symptoms, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart problems, report them to a healthcare professional and ask for an evaluation of your heart. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure which requires seeking timely medical attention, although sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.
This table lists the most common signs and symptoms, explains why they occur and describes how to recognize them.
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Early Signs Of Heart Failure
Heart failure refers to a chronic medical condition in which the heart no longer functions properly. When your heart cannot pump effectively, blood cannot travel where it needs to in your body. This may lead to severe health risks that could prove life-threatening.
You can manage heart failure with help from your cardiovascular doctor. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can ensure you can have an improved quality of life with this condition. You can seek urgent care from your doctor when you know the signs that you may have congestive heart failure. Read on to learn about four common symptoms that may occur if you have heart failure.
Do You Know The Early Signs Of Heart Failure
About 900,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with heart failure every year. More than half of those diagnosed are women, and 56% of the people who die from heart failure are women.
Heart failure can happen to anyone. More than 6 million Americans live with it. Thats why its so important to recognize the early signs and get the treatment you need. The earlier heart failure is treated, the more likely the treatment will be effective.
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What Are The Common Early Symptoms Of Heart Failure In Adults
Most of the common symptoms of heart failure are also associated with other conditions.
But if you have any symptoms that are recurrent or persistent, or if you have two or more common early signs of heart failure, its a good idea to seek medical care. A medical professional can assess your symptoms and determine if heart failure is the cause.
Common early symptoms of heart failure include:
- shortness of breath
- trouble sleeping, or sleeping on extra pillows
- waking up at night short of breath
- loss of appetite or nausea
- heart palpitations
Next, well explain a bit more about why each of these symptoms can be caused by heart failure.
Can Surgery Be Used To Treat Heart Failure
In heart failure, surgery may sometimes prevent further damage to the heart and improve the heart’s function. Procedures used include:
- Coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. The most common surgery for heart failure caused by coronary artery disease is . Although surgery is more risky for people with heart failure, new strategies before, during, and after surgery have reduced the risks and improved outcomes.
- Heart valve surgery. Diseased heart valves can be treated both surgically and non-surgically .
- Implantable left ventricular assist device . The LVAD is known as the “bridge to transplantation” for patients who haven’t responded to other treatments and are hospitalized with severe systolic heart failure. This device helps your heart pump blood throughout your body. It allows you to be mobile, sometimes returning home to await a heart transplant. It may also be used as destination therapy for long-term support in patients who are not eligible for transplant.
- Heart transplant. A heart transplant is considered when heart failure is so severe that it doesn’t respond to all other therapies, but the person’s health is otherwise good.
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Faces Of Heart Failure
Heart failure occurs when something damages the heart muscle or reduces the heart’s ability to pump effectively. Most often, the damage stems from coronary artery disease or heart attack. But faulty heart valves, longstanding high blood pressure, or genetic disease may also be to blame. No matter what the cause, the failing heart can no longer pump well enough to keep up with the body’s demand for oxygen-rich blood.
To help both doctors and patients quickly spot a possible combination of heart failure symptoms, the Heart Failure Society of America developed a handy tool that goes by the acronym FACES.
F = Fatigue. When the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet the body’s energy needs, a general feeling of tiredness or fatigue sets in.
A = Activity limitation. People with heart failure are often unable to do their normal activities because they become easily tired and short of breath.
C = Congestion. Fluid buildup in the lungs can result in coughing, wheezing, and breathing difficulty.
E = Edema or ankle swelling. When the heart doesn’t have enough pumping power to force used blood back up from the lower extremities, fluid can collect in the ankles, legs, thighs, and abdomen. Excess fluid can also cause rapid weight gain.
You Get Dizzy Or Lightheaded
If you have ever been to a gym, you may have seen warning signs to stop walking, running, cycling or stepping if you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Dizziness is one of those symptoms that can have many causes.
Sometimes, it’s caused by dehydration or because you “got up too quickly,” but if it occurs on a regular basis, talk with your healthcare provider. Medication side effects, inner ear problems, anemia, or, less commonly, heart issues may be to blame. Lightheadedness could be caused by blockages in arteries that lessen blood pressure or by faulty valves that cannot maintain it, said Dr. Miller.
What Are The Complications Of Heart Failure
Some of the complications from heart failure include:
- Irregular heartbeat.
- History of taking drugs that can damage your heart muscle, such as some cancer drugs.
Stage B is considered pre-heart failure. It means your healthcare provider has given you a diagnosis of systolic left ventricular dysfunction but youve never had symptoms of heart failure. Most people with Stage B heart failure have an echocardiogram that shows an ejection fraction of 40% or less. This category includes people who have heart failure and reduced EF due to any cause.
People with Stage C heart failure have a heart failure diagnosis and currently have or previously had signs and symptoms of the condition.
There are many possible symptoms of heart failure. The most common are:
- Shortness of breath.
- Need to urinate while resting at night.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats .
- A dry, hacking cough.
- A full or hard stomach, loss of appetite or upset stomach .
There may be times that your symptoms are mild or you may not have any symptoms at all. This doesn’t mean you no longer have heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure can range from mild to severe and may come and go.
Unfortunately, heart failure usually gets worse over time. As it worsens, you may have more or different signs or symptoms.Its important to let your doctor know if you have new symptoms or if your symptoms get worse.