We all know sudden heart attacks can be dangerous and harm our health. However, many aren’t aware that slower-developing conditions can be equally, if not more harmful. One of these conditions is congestive heart failure (CHF), and it develops when your heart isn’t pumping blood efficiently.
Since this condition can have severe consequences, it’s vital to recognize the symptoms on time. Read on to learn which sign indicates congestive heart failure and what you need to do if you notice it.
Coughing is an entirely normal process that helps eliminate irritants from our throat or airways. An occasional cough is perfectly healthy, has a protective purpose, and stops after the irritant has been removed.
But if the cough persists even when there’s no irritant, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. The American Heart Association (AHA) emphasizes that a long-lasting cough with white or pink mucus can be a sign of heart failure.
This type of cough is also called cardiac cough. For those wondering how a long-lasting cough can be related to your heart, here’s the explanation. Due to CHF, the heart is less efficient, and the lungs become congested. The excess fluid then travels to your air sacs or alveoli. Your brain identifies this congestion as an irritant and instructs your chest and abdominal muscles to contract and eliminate the “intruder.”
Since coughing is generally related to respiratory infections, it can often go unnoticed for months. If you’ve received medication and the cough continues, you should get a heart exam.
Here are a few symptoms of cardiac cough you should pay attention to:
- Wet cough with occasional blood spots
- Heavy breathing
- Whistling sound coming from the lungs
- Bubbling sensation in your chest
- Dry cough with an occasional white or pink mucus
- Nighttime coughing
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath during simple, non-demanding activities or sleeping)
What to Do if You Notice Symptoms of Cardiac Cough?
Have you noticed your cough isn’t going away? If you suspect it’s cardiac cough, you mustn’t treat it yourself. Namely, many over-the-counter cough suppressants contain ingredients that raise blood pressure and cause fluid buildup, which could only worsen your condition.
If you’re already taking heart medication, continue with your routine and visit a doctor right away.
Other Early Signs of Heart Failure
In addition to cardiac cough, you might experience numerous other symptoms that could indicate heart problems. They are often attributed to stress or unhealthy lifestyle and are, unfortunately, dismissed as irrelevant.
Being constantly tired has become so common nowadays that many people forget it could be a sign of numerous health problems. When your heart is pumping inefficiently, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, causing you to feel tired.
If you’re getting enough sleep but still feel exhausted, seek medical help to check your heart health.
Irregular Heart Beat
Naturally, our hearts beat faster when we’re excited, under stress, or exercising. But if your heart skips beats, or beats faster than usual when you’re inactive, this is almost always a warning sign.
Swollen Legs, Ankles, or Feet
Swollen legs, ankles, or feet could indicate that fluid is trapped in your body. The buildup of excess fluid is called edema and is often caused by congestive heart failure.
Chest pain, pressure, pinching, or tightness can be a sign of heart failure. Even if it happens occasionally or lasts for a short period, you should get it checked out.
Rapid Weight Gain
Edema can occur anywhere in your body. This excess fluid can cause you to rapidly and suddenly gain weight. This can indicate heart failure and additionally strains your already weakened heart.
Lack of Appetite
Not feeling hungry even if you haven’t eaten for a long time can be another symptom of heart failure. This, along with nausea, is often related to stomach issues, but it’s actually a common sign of heart problems, too. Since your heart isn’t working properly, your digestive system isn’t getting enough blood, thus causing a lack of appetite.
Confusion or Impaired Thinking
The AHA states that varying levels of substances in our blood can cause different psychological symptoms. Some of them are confusion, disorientation, impaired thinking, and even memory loss.
Most frequently, the people around you will notice these symptoms before you. Since disorientation and confusion can occur with other serious conditions, it’s necessary to visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Be Smart About Your Heart
Symptoms that indicate congestive heart failure are often “hidden,” and many people disregard them as being caused by something else. To keep your heart healthy, go for regular check-ups and take your medication as prescribed. Additionally, eat heart-healthy foods and engage in physical activity.