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congestive heart failure symptoms article

Medical Author:Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Medical Editor:William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

What are congestive heart failure symptoms?

The symptoms ofcongestive heart failurevary among individuals according to the particular organ systems involved and depending on the degree to which the rest of the body has compensated for the.

An early symptom of congestiveheart failureisfatigue. Whilefatigueis a sensitive indicator of possible underlying congestive heart failure, it is obviously a nonspecific symptom that may be caused by many other conditions. The persons ability toexercisemay also diminish. Affected individuals may not even sense this decrease and they may subconsciously reduce their activities to accommodate this limitation.

As the body becomes overloaded with fluid from congestive heart failure, swelling (edema) of the ankles and legs or abdomen may be noticed. This can be referred to as

as failure of the right-sided heart chambers to pump venous blood to thelungsto acquire oxygen results in buildup of this fluid in gravity-dependent areas such as in the legs. The most common cause of this is longstanding failure of theleft heart, which may lead to secondary failure of the right heart. Right-sided heart failure can also be caused by severe lung disease (referred to as cor pulmonale), or by intrinsic disease of the right heart muscle (less common).

In addition, fluid may accumulate in the lungs, thereby causingshortness of breath, particularly duringexerciseand when lying flat. In some instances, patients are awakened at night, gasping for air.

Some may be unable tosleepunless sitting upright.

The extra fluid in the body may cause increased urination, particularly at night.

Accumulation of fluid in theliverandintestinesmay causenauseaabdominal pain, anddecreased appetite.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease

Amsterdam EA. Revised American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines for the management of heart failure.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Congestive Heart Failure.Prev Cardiol. 2005 Fall;8(4):254, 256.

Heart Failure Society Of America. Evaluation and management of patients with acute decompensated heart failure.J Card Fail. 2006 Feb;12(1):e86-e103. Review.

Larson LW, Gerbert DA, Herman LM, Leger MM, McNellis R, ODonoghue DL, Ulshafer C, Van Dyke EM; American College of Cardiology; American Heart Association. ACC/AHA 2005 guideline update: chronic heart failure in the adult.

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