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Early Symptoms and Signs of Heart Failure

Early Symptoms and Signs of Heart Failure Overview

Heart failure is a condition whereby the heart muscle is unable to adequately pump blood throughout the body. There are a variety of illnesses and diseases that affect the heart's pumping capability. Heart failure causes signs and symptoms due to the excess accumulation of fluid within the tissues of the body.

Circulation is a continuous loop whereby the left side of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. The right side of the heart pumps blood containing carbon dioxide to the lungs.

  • The right side of the heart (right atrium and right ventricle) collects blood from the body and pumps it through the lungs, which remove carbon dioxide and supply oxygen.
  • The left side of the heart accepts the oxygen-rich blood and pumps it to the body. Hemoglobin within red blood cells delivers oxygen to body tissues, which then carries carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
  • The cycle repeats with each heartbeat.

Blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. While plasma contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, hormones, and a variety of other chemicals, it is more than 90% water.

When the heart muscle becomes weak and cannot adequately pump into the arteries, blood “backs up” and pressure in the blood vessels causes water to leak out of blood vessels into the tissues of the body.

Right Heart Failure Symptoms

When the right ventricle cannot pump blood adequately, blood backs up into the veins that return blood to the right heart. Fluid then leaks out of veins and capillaries.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/9/2015

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Early Symptoms and Signs of Heart Failure:

Heart Failure Symptoms - Shortness of Breath

Do you have shortness of breath associated with heart failure?

Heart Failure Symptoms - Increased Urination

Are you urinating more frequently due to heart failure? Is it worse at night?

Heart Failure Symptoms - Edema

Do you have edema associated with heart failure?

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