4 Signs You Have Heart Failure You Probably Don’t Know

  • Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs.
  • Early, subtle symptoms of heart failure may be “harbingers” of “imminent death,” according to one report.
  • Symptoms include upset stomach and insomnia, the American Heart Association said.

Heart failure can cause early, subtle symptoms that may be “harbingers” of disease worsening and “imminent death,” according to a report from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The report, published Thursday in the medical journal Circulation, outlines the most recent knowledge about the symptoms of heart failure, as well as other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs and can be fatal. Heart failure usually can’t be cured, but early treatment can help people live longer and with a better quality of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment includes medications, physical activity, and reducing salt in the diet.

According to the CDC, approximately 6.2 million American adults have heart failure.

Smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, not getting enough exercise, and a poor diet — that is, too much salt, fat, or cholesterol — all increase your risk of heart failure. Medical conditions, such as heart disease, previous heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes also increase your risk of getting it.

Heart failure usually causes shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is a “characteristic” of heart failure, the report said. Severe breathing problems are linked to an increased risk of death, according to the AHA.

The report said other health conditions that cause breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may occur along with heart failure.

Other common symptoms of heart failure include feeling generally tired and swollen feet, legs or ankles, according to the CDC.

The AHA report said fatigue was the most “annoying” characteristic of heart failure.

Symptoms of early heart failure include nausea

Early symptoms of heart failure may include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, the report said.

Muscle loss due to heart failure may indicate that the disease is progressing to more advanced stages, it said.

The AHA said, “Early and subtle symptoms can also be harbingers of worsening HF and imminent hospitalization or death.”

Other symptoms of heart failure include insomnia, depression, and anxiety

The review found that 25% to 30% of adults with heart failure reported mood disorders — most commonly depression and anxiety — as well as insomnia.

Heart failure causes insomnia for a number of reasons. First, people with heart failure often become breathless when they lie flat. Second, a side effect of heart failure drugs that drain fluid that builds up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath, and lower extremities, which cause swollen feet, can cause people to urinate more at night.

Women with heart failure are more likely to have stomach problems

The report said women with heart failure are more likely than men to report nausea, palpitations, upset stomach, sweating, swelling, pain, depression, anxiety and a lower quality of life.

Heart failure in women is diagnosed later in life, and women may have more concurrent illnesses, which may partially explain these differences, the AHA said.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.