Congestive Heart Failure: Symptoms

Reviewed by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP

As the heart grows weaker in a person with congestive heart failure, symptoms become more apparent. Common symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, and/or abdomen (Caused by buildup of fluids in the body).

A person with congestive heart failure may feel tired doing ordinary physical tasks, such as getting dressed, or may experience difficulty breathing even while sitting or lying down.

Signs that congestive heart failure is worsening include:

  • Weight gain
  • Frequent urination
  • Coughing
  • Fluid in the lungs

Fluid in the lungs is a sign of very severe congestive heart failure and needs emergency medical treatment.

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