Heart failure is a serious condition that develops when your heart lacks the strength to supply your body with enough blood. Sluggish blood flow can lead to numerous heart failure complications, including swollen feet, shortness of breath, or arrhythmia. Luckily, modern medicine makes it possible to manage heart failure. It’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and learn how to prevent different complications of this condition.
Keep on reading to discover the five most common complications of heart failure how to prevent them.
1. Cough that worsens at night
Heart failure allows fluid to accumulate in your lungs, leading to issues like a lingering cough. However, if your cough gets worse during the night, or when you lie in a horizontal position, consult a specialist ASAP. This kind of cough can indicate the occurrence of pulmonary edema that requires immediate treatment. In such a case, a cardiologist may prescribe you medications that reduce the build-up of excess fluid in your lungs and allow their proper function.
Because heart failure typically causes fluid accumulation in the lungs, patients often experience shortness of breath when participating in routine activities like getting dressed or walking short distances. However, if your shortness of breath does not go away regardless of how much you rest, you should inform a cardiologist. A specialist can change your medication to help your breathing or suggest additional testing to determine if you require supplemental oxygen.
2. Heart palpitations
If you suffer from heart failure and start to feel like your heart is skipping a beat or pounding too fast, consult a doctor. In some cases, heart failure can trigger arrhythmia (or irregular heartbeat), which can also cause dizziness or weakness. A specialist can evaluate electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeat and prescribe appropriate medications. They can also give recommendations about how to treat arrhythmia that occurred due to heart failure.
3. Increasing dizziness or fatigue
Most heart failure patients sometimes feel dizzy and fatigued, especially when standing. This occurs because your heart is unable to quickly increase blood supply to your brain.
However, if you feel dizzy and fatigued more often than normal, or if the dizziness occurs even when you lie down, contact a heart doctor. Severe fatigue and dizziness may occur due to further weakening of your heart. Your doctor may prescribe different medications or adjust the amount of medication you’re currently taking.
4. Weight gain
Paying attention to your weight is essential to manage heart failure symptoms. Make sure to weigh yourself every day and watch out for any increasing trend on the scale. If you suffer from heart failure, your weight may fluctuate from one day to another. However, if you’re continuously gaining weight, it can indicate increasing fluid retention all over your body. A cardiology specialist will evaluate your weight gain to identify if you need different medications or other interventions.
5. Swelling in the abdomen, feet, or legs
Heart failure patients typically experience recurring swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs. However, if your legs stay swollen for a long period or you start to experience swelling in your belly (particularly if it’s firm to the touch), then it’s best to consult your doctor. Severe fluid retention can indicate a decrease in your heart’s ability to pump. A cardiology specialist will recommend lifestyle or medication changes to minimize fluid retention.
The bottom line
Heart failure is a severe condition that can lead to numerous health problems. So it’s vital to listen to your body’s signals to identify and prevent a serious complication. If you’ve recently started to experience constant swelling in your legs or abdomen, shortness of breath, constant cough, or sudden weight gain, consult a heart specialist to identify the proper cause and start appropriate treatment.
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