Approximately 6.2 million people in the United States are living with congestive heart failure, and we want to underscore the words “living with.” As with most medical conditions, the sooner that we’re aware of the problem, the sooner we can take action to treat the issue. This certainly applies to congestive heart failure, which is a progressive condition that we can slow and manage.
The key is recognizing the signs of heart failure and seeking prompt attention. To help, the team of experienced heart health experts here at Advanced Cardiology Specialists outline the three most common signs of heart failure below.
We all feel tired from time-to-time and lack the energy to get through the day. These events are often temporary and remedied by a good night’s sleep. When you have congestive heart failure, however, your heart isn’t able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to your body. When this happens, your body diverts blood to your major organs, which leaves your muscles depleted.
As a result, you’re left feeling fatigued, and even small efforts leave you exhausted. From climbing stairs to running errands at the local grocery store, if these activities feel more like running a marathon, there may be a problem with oxygen delivery in your body.
2. Out of breath
Another hallmark of congestive failure is feeling out of breath, even with minor exertion. Though this breathlessness can occur with activity, it can also present itself when you’re at rest. As well, many people with heart failure experience difficulty breathing when they lie down.
This symptom occurs when blood backs up in your pulmonary veins, causing fluid to build in your lungs.
Another common sign of heart failure is fluid buildup in your legs and in your abdomen. At first, you may experience swelling in your ankles and feet, especially at the end of the day or after you’ve been sitting and/or inactive for a period. As heart failure progresses, the swelling can become more constant.
The reason why this occurs is that blood is slow to leave your heart, which can cause blood in your veins to back up. This allows fluid to build up in your tissues. As well, your kidneys can’t keep up with filtering sodium and water from your body.
Treating heart failure
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we outline above, we urge you to come see us. If we find that you have heart failure, we can take several steps to help improve the condition, including:
- Medications to improve circulation and heart function
- Mitigating underlying factors, such as quitting smoking
- Instituting heart-healthy habits, such as exercise and better nutrition
We also monitor you for any complications, such as arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). If a dangerous arrhythmia develops, we can turn to a pacemaker or a cardioverter defibrillator to help your heart maintain a healthy rhythm.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the first step is the most important one — recognizing a problem and coming to see us for an evaluation. To get started, contact our office in Mountain View, California.