SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE
By Sheryl McCormick
In today’s society it seems that there are never enough hours in the day. Trying to raise a family, maintaining relationships, extracurricular activities, and the high demands of work, have made us an exhausted society. While people may believe that fatigue is normal, it can be a symptom of Heart Failure.
Performing everyday tasks and responsibilities are very simple for most of us. However, those suffering from Heart Failure can experience difficulty while performing common activities such as walking, shopping, bending over or even resting because of extreme fatigue and/or shortness of breath.
Not eating properly and/or not exercising regularly can make you very tired and weak, but so can Heart Failure. Being overworked or depressed can make a person tired or give them a general feeling of weakness, but so can Heart Failure. Even lack of concentration or awareness has been associated with Heart Failure. Performing life’s everyday responsibilities as mentioned above, may make a person think that it is normal to feel extremely tired or even depressed. While that may be true, Heart Failure can be creeping up on someone at the same time. Therefore, people experiencing fatigue may not realize that they are in the early stages of Heart Failure.
In some cases, Heart Failure can cause unusual shortness of breath. It is obvious that if you are exerting yourself (by working out or walking quickly) your breathing may become labored. But if you are doing simple things like bending over, bathing, or resting, and experience shortness of breath, this can be an early indication.
While common sense dictates that over exertion will cause fatigue, a lot of us don’t realize that we can also become tired in our sleep. If you have trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath (dyspnea), you could be suffering from inadequate cardiac output.
There are a few physical signs that may indicate Heart Failure. Fluid retention, which causes weight gain and possible swelling of the feet, ankles, or even abdomen, is associated with the disease. Another physical sign is bulging of the neck veins. When the pulmonary veins aren’t functioning as they should, an insufficient supply of blood is making it to the heart, thus causing fluid to build up in the arteries and body tissues (edema).
When the heart isn’t strong enough to pump an adequate supply of blood throughout the entire body, the first areas that receive blood are the heart and the brain. Other, less vital organs (the kidneys or the digestive system) don’t receive the amount of blood they require to function properly. This can result in less urine production, the need to urinate at night, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting. If a person feels full even when they haven’t eaten, the digestive system is not working properly due to lack of blood supply.
A lot of the symptoms of Heart Failure are intertwined with life’s ups and downs, which can make personal detection very difficult. Obviously, once a person becomes properly diagnosed with Heart Failure, the symptoms become easier to recognize and monitor due to awareness. However, Heart Failure can creep up on someone who is not aware of the signs.
Early detection is the key to properly handling Heart Failure. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms, please consult a physician for proper diagnosis.