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Heart failure (also known as congestive heart failure or CHF) occurs when the heart is unable to effectively pump or fill with blood. Heart failure symptoms can vary widely including mild disease with shortness of breath and leg swelling, or severe disease with failure of other organs. Heart failure is one of the leading causes of hospitalizations nationwide – leading to poorer quality of life and earlier death if not managed quickly and carefully.
Coronary artery disease and hypertension are the most common contributors to the development of congestive heart failure. However, heart valve disease, arrhythmias, viruses, lung disease and medication side effects may also play a role. Since the reasons for heart failure are so varied, patients require precise diagnosis and careful treatment for the best outcomes.
Heart Failure Symptoms
Congestive heart failure doesn't happen overnight. Usually, patients experience a gradual worsening of symptoms over days or months.
Common heart failure symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath with activity
• Cough at night or shortness of breath when laying down to go to sleep
• Swelling of the ankles, feet, and belly and/or weight gain
• Irregular or fast heartbeat
• Fatigue, weakness, or confusion
• Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
Avoid Your Triggers
Talk with your doctor about the following possible triggers. If these are triggers for you, use the suggestions to help you avoid them.
Is not taking medicines properly a trigger for you? It is important to take all your medicines as directed and to refill them on time.
For more information, visit our Healthwise guide on heart failure content.