Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

April 8, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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As the chosen caregiver, it’s good to be aware of the risks your family members could face as they get older. It’s important to be prepared to help them manage those risks through their later years.

One such risk is congestive heart failure, often abbreviated to CHF. Diagnosis of this condition means the heart is not pumping as well as it should. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5% of the population of older adults between the ages of 60 and 69 throughout the United States are suffering from congestive heart failure. This percentage increases with age, as does the risk of developing the condition.

Read on for signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure.

15 Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Knowing the potential signs and symptoms of this condition can help you evaluate your loved one and act quickly should you detect signs or behaviors that might indicate they are suffering from this serious condition.

Some of the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

1. Shortness of Breath

If your loved one has CHF, they may experience shortness of breath. Also known as dyspnea, this symptom is especially noticeable when they exert themselves or lie down.

2. Fatigue

Fatigue that goes beyond the usual feeling of tiredness may be an early warning sign of congestive heart failure. It may also be accompanied by a general feeling of increased weakness and difficulty with everyday activities such as shopping, climbing stairs, carrying
groceries or walking.

3. Edema (Swelling, in the Feet, Ankles, and Legs)

In individuals who have CHF, blood is not efficiently pumped back to the heart and can pool in the legs. When blood pools in the legs it can cause swelling in the area.

4. Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeat)

Congestive heart failure can cause serious arrhythmias as well as an irregular or rapid heartbeat. Arrhythmias related to CHF can occur from left ventricular dysfunction, myocardial ischemia, catecholamines, electrolyte disturbances, and drugs used to treat heart failure, according to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

5. Persistent Cough

CHF can cause a persistent cough that is not associated with another condition or health concern such as a cold.

6. Wheezing

Congestive heart failure can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, which can cause wheezing. You may notice when your loved one wheezes, they also cough up white phlegm or phlegm that is tinged with blood.

7. Changes in Urination

CHF can cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys. This can cause fluid retention resulting in frequent urination, including an increased urge to urinate during the night.

8. Swelling of the Abdomen

Congestive heart failure is linked to widespread fluid retention due to decreased blood flow throughout the body. One of the more noticeable places where swelling can occur is the abdominal area.

9. Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

People with congestive heart failure may find it challenging to consume enough calories and nutrients due to a loss of appetite and feeling full. This symptom, coupled with muscle wasting, can contribute to significant weight loss.

10. Weight Gain

Sudden weight gain that is not associated with another condition and is attributed to fluid retention.

If your loved one experiences any of the following, bring them to the doctor as quickly as possible:

11. Chest pain

12. Sudden, Severe Shortness of Breath

13. Severe weakness

14. Fainting

15. Rapid Heartbeat With Chest Pain or Fainting

Related article: 5 Tips for Caring for a Senior With Congestive Heart Failure

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care Services

If your family member has recently been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, now may be the ideal time to consider home health care. A home care service provider can be with your loved one on a customized schedule that is right for your family.

This means that even if you are not able to be with them, you can be confident in knowing they are getting everything they need to stay healthy, safe, and comfortable, as well as maintain as much independence and control as possible.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.