3 signs of heart failure to look out for

Symptom #1: Shortness of breath

Everyone gets winded once in a while, but people who might be developing heart failure experience shortness of breath that’s a bit different. Dr. Nicole Harkin, a preventive cardiologist and founder of Whole Heart Cardiology in San Francisco, tells Yahoo Life that when the heart cannot pump blood properly, the blood starts to back up, causing congestion and fluid buildup in the lungs. She says these patients may feel breathless while performing normal daily activities that they “used to be able to do easily,” such as walking or climbing stairs

Symptom #2: Feeling fatigued

Heart failure also impacts the heart’s ability to pump enough oxygen to the muscles within your body. Without the right amount of oxygen, those muscles can get worn out quickly. “People with heart failure often notice that they're experiencing fatigue or extreme exhaustion,” explains Harkin. “This is because the heart isn't able to meet the metabolic demands of the body.”

Symptom #3: Abnormal swelling

As blood flow from the heart slows, over time, it can back up in your veins. “The pressure from this backup causes fluid to accumulate in the soft tissues of the legs, as well as sometimes in the abdomen,” explains Harkin. This buildup of excess fluid in body tissues is called edema and is another indication of heart failure.

“How you can check for swelling in your legs is by touching your finger on your shin,” Harkin instructs. “If you notice that you can really see the [deep] imprint of your finger, that's called pitting edema and may be a sign of heart failure. Talk to your doctor if you notice this.”

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