1. Health

How to Tell if Your Heart Is Failing
From your Guide

Heart failure is a condition where the heart can no longer adequately pump blood to meet the body's needs. Although it is always serious, heart failure is not instantly fatal.

Difficulty Level: Easy    Time Required: 30 min


Here's How:
  1. An early sign of heart failure is shortness of breath (dysnea). It is slowly progressive and ultimately interferes with your level of activity and lifestyle.
  2. In advanced cases, you may not be able to lie down flat in bed, a condition called orthopnea.
  3. Sometimes, you may wake up in the middle of the night feeling suddenly breathless and choked. This is called paroxysmal nocturnal dysnea (PND).
  4. You may feel easily fatigued, as a direct consequence of the reduced capacity of your heart to pump blood effectively.
  5. You may develop water-logging in your feet and ankles - a condition called edema - or rarely even in the abdominal cavity. This is another indication of heart failure.
  6. You may notice prominence of veins in the neck, face and arms. This is a result of stagnation of blood inside these veins.
  7. You may contract frequent chest infections, especially if you are an older patient with heart failure.
  8. In very tiny newborns, heart failure is recognized by the child's inability to feed normally, excessive sweatiness, frequent chest infections, constant crying, irritability, and failure to gain weight.
  9. Your urine output might become lower, a consequence of less blood flow to the kidneys.
  10. In terminal stages, heart failure patients have cold, clammy skin, sweatiness, a rapid heart rate and raspy harsh breathing.
  11. Further investigations including an x-ray of the chest, EKG and echocardiography can help you identify the cause for heart failure.


Tips:

  1. Heart failure can often be recognized clinically.
  2. Other disease conditions - like lung fibrosis, kidney failure and blood disorders - can mimic some aspects of heart failure and be mistaken for it.
  3. Early identification and treatment can help minimize the damage.

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