Four Early Signs of Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure does not mean that your heart simply stops (that is called cardiac arrest).Older woman with grey hair wearing a blue denim shirt and staring out of a window.

Congestive heart failure, or CHF, does mean that your heart has stopped working as efficiently as it should. More specifically, this is a long term condition that progresses over time in which your heart no longer pumps blood as effectively as it should due to a buildup of fluid in the heart.

This condition proliferates the United States of America, affecting more than 6 million people.

In fact, more than 870,000 are diagnosed with congestive heart failure each year.

This condition gets worse over time, so the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be determined to manage congestive heart failure. Here are four early signs of this condition:

  1. Fatigue: If you’ve been busy with work or errands all day, haven’t been getting enough sleep, or have children, you may often feel tired or sleepy. Fatigue is different. This is a complete lack of energy or motivation. For example, you may feel tired after a workout, but fatigue is more often to occur when someone does not exercise or eat well. While fatigue is a symptom of a lot of other medical conditions including anemia, arthritis, and depression, it is also an early sign of congestive heart failure because the heart is unable to pump an appropriate amount of blood to meet the needs of the various parts of your body, so it tries to compensate by diverting the blood away from muscles in your arms and legs to more vital organs like the heart and brain.
  1. Swelling in Your Ankles, Feet, and Legs: As mentioned earlier, CHF is associated with a buildup of fluid in the heart. When your heart can’t pump enough blood throughout your body, eventually fluid will back up inside other parts of your body as well. Additionally, the kidneys are unable to efficiently rid the body of excess sodium and water, which leads to fluid retention.
  1. Unexplained Weight Gain: Your diet hasn’t changed, your activity level hasn’t changed, but for some reason you have gained weight. When it has been determined that other causes are not responsible for weight gain, it is usually due to the fluid retention caused by CHF.
  1. Increased Urination: Since the kidneys are no longer receiving efficient blood flow, the resulting fluid retention causes more frequent urination, specifically at night.

As congestive heart failure gets worse, additional symptoms that may occur include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cough and congestion in the lungs
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain

Turn to the experts at the Medical Group of New Jersey to diagnose and treat heart failure in New Jersey. Contact us to schedule an appointment!