Have you been taking care of your heart during quarantine? All of that soda and junk food may be taking its toll on you. Especially if you’re not exercising.
6.2 million U.S. adults have heart failure. Almost 400,000 people died from it in 2018. People often mistake heart failure as the organ failing to work. In reality, it’s when your heart can’t pump blood properly.
Let’s talk about 9 Signs of Heart Failure You Should Never Ignore. Are you coughing hard at night? Are you gaining weight? Are you having a hard time breathing? Wait, does your heart feel like it’s going to burst through your chest? We’re talking all that AND more…
1. Heart Palpitations
Has your heart been skipping a beat lately? Do you find your chest pounding unexpectedly? A scary feeling isn’t it? These are heart palpitations.
By definition, heart palpitations are a feeling of fast-beating, fluttering, and pounding. Some people experience it often, while others have it on occasion. Either way, it’s uncomfortable.
Let’s get super sciency for a minute. Many heart palpitations start when your heart’s upper chambers contract prematurely. Yes, your heart has chambers. When this happens, your heart is thrown off its rhythm. There are several causes of heart palpitations. Things like low blood sugar, dehydration, and low potassium all play into it. Even having too much morning coffee can contribute.
Whatever it is, your heart is under stress. People on the verge of heart failure are more likely to experience heart palpitations. If you’re noticing that you have palpitations more than usual, don’t ignore this.
Speak to a doctor as quickly as possible and go from there.
2. Weight Gain
A sudden increase on the scale is shocking, and there are several possible causes. Some of us just need to switch up our eating habits.
A person with heart failure will experience weight fluctuations. If your weight increases, you will experience hypertension. Your heart is angry at the way you’ve been treating it. But it’s a little more complicated than that.
If your blood pressure is through the roof, and it’s accompanied by weight fluctuations, it may be a sign that heart failure is coming. People with a bad heart will often notice a 2 to 3-pound weight gain in the span of just 24 hours.
By the end of the week, you may have gained more than 5 pounds. If you’re going through any of these other symptoms while also seeing sudden weight gain, get medical attention. The state of your health is at stake.
3. Dizziness & Fatigue
Much like weight gain, there are so many reasons why we become dizzy or tired. But for a person with heart failure, this happens the moment you wake up in the morning. You can get dizzy the second you stand up.
If this is happening on a regular basis, your heart is signaling that it needs help. When your heart isn’t functioning properly, the blood will not circulate to the brain as it did before.
This will result in you feeling lightheaded and confused. Just trying to walk in a straight line will be a task. In the case of fatigue with heart failure, your heart will be working overtime to pump blood. In order for this to happen, the heart needs to take blood away from other areas, particularly your limbs.
The excess of blood will leave your heart and brain overwhelmed beyond belief. This tires you out. You’ll hardly be able to get any work done, you’ll be that exhausted.
If you’re suffering from heart failure, prepare to cough up a lot of fluid. The pressure on your heart will cause a lot of fluid to build up in the lungs. Any type of fluid in your lungs will cause a sudden and almost violent cough.
The mucus you’ll cough up is usually white, but this is where you should be alarmed. If the mucus is a pink-type color, this means there’s a little blood in it. Needless to say, you should talk to someone.
There are other causes for concern when it comes to coughing. Take night coughs for example. If your cough gets worse when you lay down for bed, your chest could be warning you about pulmonary edema.
This means there’s way too much fluid in the lungs. This brings me to my next point.
5. Shortness of Breath
On top of excess fluid in the chest, a person can feel shortness of breath with heart failure. This can be made worse if your lungs have developed edema. Breathlessness can happen in any situation.
Whether you’re out playing basketball, hanging out with friends, or laying down for a good night’s rest. Lying down flat poses one of the biggest challenges for your lungs. You’ll find yourself wheezing and breathing heavily. This will get in the way of your sleep time.
One of the best things you can do in this situation is to take two pillows and rest your head on top of them. This way your upper body is elevated. As I said, fluid in the lungs can contribute.
But heart failure will also cause your blood to back up in the pulmonary veins. These return blood from the lungs to the heart. Your heart is too weak to keep up with the blood supply, and fluid will start leaking into your lungs.
6. Loss of Appetite
Heart failure can make you not want to eat. Now for some, this might seem like a good thing. After all, a poor diet is one of the things that got you here in the first place. Well, this loss of appetite happens when the digestive system receives less blood. Not exactly ideal for slimming down. As a result, you’re not going to be hungry.
Keep in mind your stomach will still feel full. Like you just ate the meal of a lifetime. You might also feel a bit bloated. In some cases, even sick. If this loss of appetite lasts a while, you’ll lose both weight and muscle.
Your body just isn’t taking in the right amount of calories and nutrients. If you’ve starved yourself for no reason other than you’re not hungry, you should be concerned. Having trouble keeping a meal down? Talk to a professional ASAP.
I mentioned a moment ago that heart failure brings on some dizziness. Well not only will you have a hard time keeping your balance, but you’ll also feel mentally stressed. This means you’ll often have a hard time making sense of things. Maybe even some disorientation and memory loss.
Heart failure can cause an imbalance of electrolytes in your body. Soon enough, you will start to retain sodium. The rapidly changing levels of sodium in your blood will put a strain on your brain. It won’t be getting enough circulation.
This is what causes confusion. If people in your life are telling you that your memory is slipping, or you have to constantly be reminded of things, this is a problem. It’s best to talk to a cardiologist if you can.
8. Swelling of the Lower Regions
This is another really scary symptom. More so because it can happen so suddenly. Heart failure often results in swelling of the feet, legs and abdomen. You can blame edema for this.
The excessive fluid building up in your tissues has resulted in your body feeling bloated. You’ll soon notice that your lower areas have ballooned. It’s especially visible in your feet. It will even be hard to put shoes on.
As for your abdomen, the swelling will cause your midsection to get bigger as well. This will give you a bloated look. At the same time, the fluid we talked about earlier will be collecting in your lungs.
9. Frequent Urination
Going to the bathroom a little more than you used to? How about several times each night? This is another sign of heart failure you just can’t leave alone. A weak heart will be pumping less blood to the kidney.
This is because it’s too busy trying to pump to the brain. This leads to more fluid retention. You could be going almost the whole day without really having to use the toilet. That is until you go to bed. By the end of the night, you’ll find yourself making multiple trips to the bathroom.
There are so many gross symptoms of a weak and failing heart. It’s really a scary organ if it’s not working properly.