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Congestive Heart Failure

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Signs and Symptoms

If blood backs up from the right side of the heart, symptoms of CHF typically start with swelling of the legs and ankles that gets worse when the person stands and improves when the person lies down. If blood backs up from the left side of the heart into the lungs, it can cause shortness of breath and coughing, especially during exercise (such as walking up stairs) or when lying down flat in bed. Many people with heart failure have symptoms related to blood backing up on both the right and left sides of the heart.

In addition to swelling (edema) and shortness of breath, symptoms can include:

  • Heart palpitation or rapid pulse
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Decreased stamina, inability or reduced ability to perform physical exercise
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

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