Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body system. It could be due to weakness of the heart muscle such that it cannot contract forcefully. It could also be due to stiffness of the heart muscle, such that it cannot expand enough to get blood into itself. If it cannot get blood into itself, there is no blood to pump out to the body.
Heart failure may involve the left side of your heart, the right side of your heart, or both. If it involves both of them, it is known as congestive heart failure. Many of the symptoms of heart failure are due to a lack of oxygen-rich blood in the body organs.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
Some of these symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath. If you’re experiencing trouble breathing generally, when you exercise or when you lie flat, it may be a sign of heart failure. This happens because the heart can not pump blood into your body system and so your body needs more oxygen. It also happens when blood backs up into your lungs, making it more difficult for the lungs to function in breathing. If you sometimes wake up suddenly at night so as to sit up and catch your breath, you already have a severe problem and you need to see your doctor.
- Fatigue. If you’re always feeling tired and have weak legs even when you are active, you may have heart failure. This happens because the function of the heart is to pump blood rich in oxygen to the body system. When the heart fails to do this, the body system tires out.
- Body swelling (edema). If you have swelling in your ankles, legs, and abdomen which may lead to weight gain, you may have heart failure. This happens because your heart cannot really pump blood into the arterial system and when it fails to do this, it also cannot receive blood coming from the venous system of the body. This leads to the pooling of blood in the dependent areas of your body, causing edema and weight gain.
- Frequent urination at night. If you always have to urinate while resting in bed at night, you may have heart failure. This is because your kidneys are at your back and gravity allows more blood to flow down to them while you lie in bed. This means your kidneys filter more blood and produce more urine, causing you to urinate more often.
- Dizziness and difficulty concentrating. If you always feel dizzy, feel like fainting, feel lightheaded, or have difficulty concentrating, you may have heart failure. These symptoms are due to the fact that your brain is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure you seek medical attention promptly.