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Congestive Heart Failure (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Often cardiologists, who specialize in heart failure, can work together with primary care doctors and other health care providers to diagnose and treat congestive heart failure. Certain symptoms need to be checked by a doctor. If a person has any of the symptoms listed below, they should call their health care provider for an appointment. If symptoms listed below are severe or of sudden onset, seek immediate emergency care.

  • Shortness of breath that seems to be getting worse or causes difficulty sleeping.
  • Waking up at night with shortness of breath.
  • Sleep is better in a semi-upright position in a chair or recliner than flat in bed.
  • Shortness of breath develops with mild exertion and is worse than usual.
  • Unusual fatigue that is not relieved with rest.
  • A dry cough that will not go away or seems otherwise unusual.
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs that does not go away.

Other, more subtle symptoms of heart failure that are also seen in other diseases warrant a visit to a health care provider, especially if linked to any of the symptoms already listed above. These include:

  • Abdominal bloating or discomfort
  • Persistently pale skin
  • Poor appetite

Always take chest pain seriously. Congestive heart failure, per se, usually does not cause chest pain. However, remember other serious conditions that cause chest pain, such as angina and myocardial infarction, can coexist with heart failure.

If these symptoms develop quickly or worsen rapidly, seek emergency treatment.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe, unrelieved chest pain
  • Swelling in the legs that becomes painful, even in one leg
  • Fainting or near-fainting
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Heart Failure »

Heart failure is the pathophysiologic state in which the heart, via an abnormality of cardiac function (detectable or not), fails to pump blood at a rate commensurate with the requirements of the metabolizing tissues and/or pumps only from an abnormally elevated diastolic filling pressure.

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