Feb 04

The 5 Signs of Congestive Heart Failure

The 5 Signs of Congestive Heart Failure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5 percent of adults between the ages of 60 and 69 in the United States are suffering from congestive heart failure.

Heart failure occurs when something damages the heart muscle or reduces its ability to pump blood effectively to the rest of your organs. Most often, this stems from coronary artery disease or a heart attack. However, faulty heart valves, high blood pressure or genetics could also be the source.

(Free download: How to Help a Loved One After a Heart Attack)

There’s a general tendency to ignore the discomforts of congestive heart failure and attribute them to aging. This is why it’s important to educate yourself so you can identify the risk early on as symptoms arise.


FACES of Congestive Heart Failure

As mentioned, heart failure occurs when something is keeping the heart from pumping oxygen-rich blood effectively to other organs in the body. To help both doctors and patients quickly spot heart failure, the Heart Failure Society of America has developed a handy tool, using the acronym FACES.



When the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s energy needs, you’ll generally experience a feeling of fatigue.


Activity Limitation

Those with heart failure are often unable to do their normal activities because they become easily tired or feel like their heart is racing.



Fluid buildup in the lungs can result in coughing, wheezing or breathing difficulties.


Edema (Ankle Swelling)

When the heart doesn’t have enough pumping power, fluid can collect in the ankles, legs and thighs or cause rapid weight gain.


Shortness of Breath

Fluid in the lungs makes it difficult for carbon dioxide to be exchanged for fresh oxygen, causing shortness of breath.


The 5 Signs Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

These five warning signs alone don’t confirm a diagnosis of heart failure. But, they do convey a sense of urgency to speak with your physician. To get a more holistic view of congestive heart failure, it helps to understand the relationship between these symptoms and what’s happening in your body.

The following table lists the five most common symptoms, explaining why they occur and how to recognize them.



You May Experience…

Why It Happens


Consistent feelings of tiredness and difficulty with everyday activities like shopping, climbing stairs, carrying groceries or walking.

The heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of body tissues. The body diverts blood away from less vital organs (like muscles in the limbs), sending it to the heart and brain.

Increased Heart Rate

Heart palpitations that make you feel like your heart is racing or throbbing.

To "make up for" the loss in pumping capacity, the heart beats faster.


Persistent wheezing or coughing that produces white or pink blood-tinged mucus.

Fluid builds up in the lungs (see above).

Endema (Swelling)

Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen or weight gain. You may find that your shoes feel tight.

As blood flows out of the heart, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing fluid to build up in the tissues. The kidneys are less able to dispose of sodium and water, causing fluid retention in the tissues.

Shortness of Breath

Breathlessness during activity, at rest, or while sleeping, which may cause you to wake up suddenly. You have difficulty breathing while lying flat and may need to prop up the upper body and head on two pillows.

Blood "backs up" in the pulmonary veins because the heart can't keep up with the supply, causing fluid to leak into the lungs.


Suffering From Edema?

You can perform a quick test at home. Apply pressure with two fingers to the ankle or foot where there’s retention of fluid. If this leaves an indention of 0-2mm but rebounds immediately, the edema isn’t severe.

However, if pressure leaves an indention of 3-4mm and rebounds in fewer than 15 seconds, you may be suffering from grade 2 edema. If this is the case, we recommend contacting your physician to discuss a plan of treatment or management.


Detecting the Presence of Heart Disease

Scheduling routine health screenings with Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa is a great way to detect early-onset congestive heart failure. Heart attacks are caused by plaque and calcium buildup in the arteries (which obstructs blood flow to the heart). Our non-invasive, GE Revolution CT scan uses state-of-the-art technology to uncover the smallest deposits and abnormalities.

With his information gathered from your heart scan, you can work with your doctor to develop an action plan – increasing your chances of a successful recovery or even survival.

For more information on congestive heart failure or to schedule a heart scan with our team, we invite you to reach out to us today at (918) 879-6161.


Do You Know Someone Who Recently Had a Heart Attack?

It can be difficult knowing what to do, how to help or even what to say. In this free checklist, we share seven things you can do to assist them during the recovery process. Click below to access your free copy now.

How To Assist A Loved One After A Heart Attack

Heart Disease

In this ebook, we discuss our selection of scans and when it might be beneficial for you to schedule one. We outline our process and what you can expect for each option, including results and reports.


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