Hallmarks of Heart Failure

Fluid Congestion
If the heart becomes less efficient as a pump, the body will try to compensate for it. One way it attempts to do this is by using hormones and nerve signals to increase blood volume (by water retention in the kidneys). A drop in blood flow to the kidneys will also lead to fluid retention. Blood and fluid pressure backed up behind the heart result in excess salt water entering the lungs and other body tissues. However, it is important to note that not all swelling due to fluid retention is a reflection of heart failure.

Clinical symptoms due to fluid congestion:

shortness of breath
edema (pooling of fluid in lungs and body)
Reduced Blood Flow to the Body
The heart’s inability to pump blood to the muscles and organs isn’t always apparent in early stages of heart failure. Often times, it is unmasked only during increases in physical activity. In advanced heart failure, many tissues and organs may not even receive the oxygen they require for functioning at rest.

Clinical symptoms due to poor blood flow to the body:

difficulty exercising
fatigue
dizziness (due to low blood pressure)

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