In heart failure, symptoms are more than just annoyances. They are red flags that warn of worsening heart failure.
Monitoring, tracking, and promptly responding to symptoms helps keep them from worsening and averts the kind of emergency that can land you in the hospital. Holding symptoms in check lessens the stress on your heart and ultimately improves quality of life.
Is my heart failure getting worse?
The key to monitoring your symptoms is learning to recognize signs of trouble. This can be trickier than it sounds. Changes in symptoms dont necessarily advance in a straight line. Symptoms may come and go, or alternate between better and worse. Many people also have trouble telling the difference between the side effects of medications and the symptoms of heart failure itself.
Be alert for the following symptoms every day.
- Sudden weight gain (more than 2 pounds over two days or more than 5 pounds in a week).
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite/abdominal bloating
- Cough and wheezing, or shortness of breath
- Swelling (usually in the feet, legs, or abdomen)
- Increased heart rate
- Sleep problems (needing more pillows to sleep or waking from sleep feeling like you are drowning)
Even small alterations in your symptoms can be significant. At the end of each day, record your symptoms and note their severity as well as any notable details.
Click here for a printer-friendly version of this table.
Once you have a few entries, look at them all together. Asking the following questions may help you to spot trends.
- Are there any patterns in my symptoms?
- Are my symptoms becoming milder or more severe?
- Am I having any new symptoms?
- Is there anything I havent written down?
- Is there anything I should call my doctor about?