Many people with heart failure don’t know that they have it. This is because they often think that common heart failure symptoms are just a sign that they are getting older. Also, many people with heart failure try to avoid symptoms. They “take it easy” or don’t do things that make them feel tired or short of breath. But, if you miss or ignore the symptoms, your heart failure can get worse.
Common symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath. You may feel like you do not get enough air when you breathe. You may “huff and puff” even when you are not doing anything tiring. If fluid has built up in your lungs, it makes it harder to breathe. This can get worse at night because when you lie down even more fluid can build up in and around your lungs.
- Frequent coughing. You may often cough. The cough can get worse at night.
- Fast heart rate or heavy heart beat. Your heart may feel like it is racing or pounding.
- Tired and weak. If you feel tired and weak, you cannot work and do the normal things you do every day. Even walking up stairs or carrying shopping bags is hard.
- Swollen ankles, legs, and/or belly. These are all places where fluid may build up. This can lead to swelling, making them seem “puffy” and larger than normal. Your shoes and/or rings may feel tight. Your clothes may also feel tight around your waist. This swelling is often worse at the end of the day.
- Loss of appetite and/or nausea. You may not want to eat even when you should be hungry. You also may feel sick to your stomach.
- Weight gain. When extra fluid builds up, it shows up on the scale as extra weight. So, you need to keep track of your weight each day.