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.

Swelling

  • 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.

Shortness of Breath

  • 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.

Other Warning Signs

  • You feel weaker, dizzy, or more tired.

  • You have chest pain or changes in your heartbeat.

  • You have a cough that won’t go away.

  • You can’t remember things or don’t feel like eating.

Tracking Your Weight

Gaining weight is often the first warning sign that heart failure is getting worse. Gaining even a few pounds can be a sign that your body is retaining excess water and salt. Weighing yourself each day is the best way to know if you’re retaining water. Your healthcare provider will show you how to track your weight. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about calling to report weight gain.

Medical Reviewer: Paul, Sara, RN, MSN, FNP Last Annual Review Date: 2010-07-26 Copyright: © 2000-2012 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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