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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?

The most common signs and symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck

All of these symptoms are the result of fluid buildup in your body. When symptoms start, you may feel tired and short of breath after routine physical effort, like climbing stairs.

As your heart grows weaker, symptoms get worse. You may begin to feel tired and short of breath after getting dressed or walking across the room. Some people have shortness of breath while lying flat.

Fluid buildup from heart failure also causes weight gain, frequent urination, and a cough that's worse at night and when you're lying down. This cough may be a sign of acute pulmonary edema (e-DE-ma). This is a condition in which too much fluid builds up in your lungs. The condition requires emergency treatment.

Heart Failure Signs and Symptoms

The image shows the major signs and symptoms of heart failure.

The image shows the major signs and symptoms of heart failure.

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Heart Failure Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Failure, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


Heart Failure in the News

April 9, 2014
Drug does not improve set of cardiovascular outcomes for diastolic heart failure
A drug that blocks the action of a key hormone did not significantly improve a set of cardiovascular outcomes for patients with diastolic heart failure, a condition in which the heart is stiffer than normal and has problems filling with blood, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

View all Heart Failure Press Releases

 
March 27, 2014 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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