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How to Recognize the Symptoms of Heart Failure

Learn how to recognize the symptoms of heart failure (aka congestive heart failure) from Dr. Dennis Finkielstein in this Howcast video.


So how can someone know if they have heart failure? Well heart failure is really any condition in which the heart is not able to keep up with the demands of the body. Most of the time, we're talking about a weakened heart muscle, and this can have a variety of different signs or symptoms.

The most common of which would be effort and tolerance, or the inability to exert yourself, shortness of breath, or swelling in the lower extremities, or legs. If you describe any of these symptoms to your doctor, he or she may want to start with some basic tests to see how your heart muscle is functioning. They will listen to your heart, do an EKG, and oftentimes, go on to do a cardiac ultrasound, or echo cardiogram.

Heart failure has a spectrum of severity. It can come in mild, moderate or severe. And oftentimes, the mild stages may have minimal or no symptoms. The good news is there is treatment for heart failure and there are ways to prevent your risk. So the classic symptoms, in conjunction with a doctor's evaluation would be how to recognize if you have heart failure.

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