What causes congestive heart failure?
Heart failure may result from:
- Heart valve disease
- High blood pressure
- Active infections of the heart valves or heart muscle, such as endocarditis
- A past heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
- Heart disease or problems that are present at birth (congenital)
- Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) that lead to ongoing fast heart rates
- Long-term (chronic) lung disease and pulmonary embolism
- Some medicines
- A reaction to medicines such as those used for chemotherapy
- Anemia and too much blood loss
- Complications of diabetes
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Certain viral infections
What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure?
The most common symptoms of heart failure are:
- Shortness of breath while resting, exercising, or lying flat
- Weight gain from water retention
- Visible swelling of the legs and ankles from fluid buildup. Sometimes the belly (abdomen) may swell.
- Severe tiredness (fatigue) and weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea, and belly pain
- Cough that doesn’t go away. It can cause blood-tinged or frothy sputum.
The severity of the condition and symptoms depends on how much of the heart's pumping ability has been affected. The first step in managing heart failure symptoms is knowing your baselines or what’s normal for you. How much do you weigh? Are you
gaining weight but eating the same amount? How much can you do before you feel short of breath? Do your socks and shoes fit comfortably? Knowing what’s normal for you will help you see when symptoms are getting worse. Once you know your baselines,
watch for changes daily.