Heart Failure: Breathe More Easily

One of the earliest symptoms of heart failure is shortness of breath. Your heart can't function well enough to pump the blood out of your heart, and this causes blood to back up in the blood vessels leading to the lungs. Fluid then leaks from your blood vessels into the air sacs in your lungs. This makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the blood, causing shortness of breath.

You may experience breathlessness during exertion, such as when carrying groceries, climbing a flight of stairs, or at rest--even at night when sleeping.

You can do several things to help yourself breathe more easily:

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What to Ask About Heart Failure

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Heart Failure: Warning Signs of a Flare-Up

You have a condition called heart failure (also known as congestive heart failure, or CHF). Once you have heart failure, flare-ups can happen. Below are signs that can mean your heart failure is getting worse. If you notice any of these warning signs, call your healthcare provider.

Your ankles or lower legs get puffier.

Your shoes feel too tight.

Your clothes are tighter in the waist.

You have trouble getting rings on or off your fingers.

  • You have to breathe harder even when you’re doing your normal activities or when you’re resting.

  • You wake up at night short of breath or coughing.

  • You need to use more pillows or sit up to sleep.

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Did You Know?

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Heart failure is the condition in which the heart stops beating.