Common symptoms of heart failure you need to know

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Symptoms of heart failure depend on the type of heart failure you have and how serious it is.

If you have mild heart failure, you may not notice any symptoms except during hard physical work. Symptoms can depend on whether you have left-sided or right-sided heart failure.

However, you can have symptoms of both types. Symptoms usually get worse as your heart grows weaker.

Heart failure can lead to serious and life-threatening complications.

One of the first symptoms you may notice is feeling short of breath after routine activities like climbing stairs.

As your heart grows weaker, you may notice this while getting dressed or walking across the room. Some people have shortness of breath while lying flat.

Older adults who do not get much physical activity may not experience shortness of breath. However, they may feel tired and confused.

People who have left-sided heart failure may have the following symptoms:

Trouble breathing


Fatigue (extreme tiredness even after rest)

General weakness

Bluish color of finger and lips

Sleepiness and trouble concentrating

Inability to sleep lying flat

People who have right-sided heart failure may also have the following symptoms:

Nausea (feeling sick in the stomach) and loss of appetite

Pain in your abdomen (area around your stomach)

Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and the veins in your neck

Needing to pee often

Weight gain

What problems can heart failure cause?

Heart failure can cause some serious problems.

Kidney or liver damage is caused by reduced blood flow and fluid buildup in your organs.

Fluid may build up in or around your lungs.

Malnutrition from nausea and swelling in your abdomen (the area around your stomach) can make it uncomfortable for you to eat. Reduced blood flow to your stomach can make it harder to absorb nutrients from your food.

Other heart conditions such as an irregular heartbeat, leaking heart valves, or sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by heart failure.

Pulmonary hypertension may also be caused by this condition.

Sign up for our newsletter for more information about this topic.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how to reverse heart failure with diet, and what are the best blood sugar levels to prevent strokes, heart attacks.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about drug combo that could halve the risk of heart attack, stroke, and results showing that if you have high blood pressure or heart problems, don’t go to these places.

Source: NHLBI