You’re out of breath
Congestive heart failure means your blood flow is compromised because your heart isn’t pumping efficiently, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). This means that the blood flow to your heart can back up throughout the body, while oxygenated blood flowing from your heart isn’t sufficient to meet your body’s needs. One of the first symptoms of congestive heart failure is shortness of breath during normal daily chores or errands. “When the heart is impaired, blood backs up into the lungs, making it hard to breathe,” says Gregg Fonarow, MD, spokesperson for the AHA and co-chief of the UCLA division of cardiology in Los Angeles, CA. “Patients present differently, but for some, the most disturbing symptom is this shortness of breath. It can get so bad that people have trouble breathing even during rest.”
Your footwear doesn’t fit
The buildup of excess fluid in the body’s tissues, called edema, causes swelling most commonly in the feet and legs. “People may notice their shoes feel tight or their socks make lines on their ankles,” says Dr. Fonarow. In addition, with heart failure, the kidneys are less able to dispose of water and sodium, which also contributes to the retention of fluid in the tissues, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Check out these 12 heart health breakthroughs that could save your life.