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Sudden Flare-Up of Heart Failure


Sudden Flare-Up of Heart Failure

Symptoms of sudden heart failure

Sometimes your symptoms may get worse very quickly. This is called sudden heart failure or a flare-up. It causes fluid to build up in your lungs, causing congestion. (This is why the problem is often called congestive heart failure.) Symptoms may include:

  • Severe shortness of breath.
  • An irregular or fast heartbeat.
  • Coughing up foamy, pink mucus.

Sudden heart failure is an emergency. You need care right away.

A flare-up is different than heart failure that gets worse slowly. With a flare-up, your symptoms change much more quickly. It may happen if you have a high-salt meal, forget your medicines, get an irregular heartbeat, or have a problem like anemia, an infection, or a fever.

You may have to stay in the hospital to fix the problem. Some flare-ups may take several days to control.

After treatment, your symptoms will probably go back to the way they were before the flare-up.

Treatment for a flare-up

When you arrive at the hospital or emergency room, the doctor will prescribe medicines such as diuretics, nitrates, and/or morphine. These will help you breathe more easily and control your pain or anxiety. You also may get oxygen.

Your doctor may order exams, such as a stress test, EKG/ECG, or echocardiogram. These tests will let the doctor know how well your heart is working.

Your doctor will try to find the cause of your flare-up and treat it. For example, you may have eaten a salty meal the night before that caused your body to hold onto extra water and make your symptoms worse. Or the cause may be harder to find.

After the flare-up is controlled, your doctor may change the doses or types of medicine you take.

In some cases, you may go from the hospital to a rehabilitation (or rehab) center. The staff members are specially trained to support people with heart failure. They can help you with diet and lifestyle changes.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last RevisedAugust 5, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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