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When to seek medical advice about heart failure

Being diagnosed with heart failure means the heart can't pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure.

Heart failure is managed with lifestyle changes, drugs, medical devices, operations or procedures.

Between routine doctors' or specialists' appointments, seek medical advice if you have concerns or unusual symptoms, such as:

  • Unexplained weight gain – your doctor will advise you how much weight gain should prompt medical advice.
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs or abdomen that has become worse.
  • Shortness of breath that has become worse or occurs more often, especially if you wake up short of breath.
  • A feeling of fullness ( bloating) in your stomach with a loss of appetite or nausea.
  • Extreme fatigue or decreased ability to complete daily activities.
  • A respiratory ( lung) infection or a cough that has become worse.
  • Fast heart rate (around 150 beats per minute).
  • New irregular heartbeat.
  • Chest pain or discomfort during activity that is relieved with rest.
  • Difficulty breathing during regular activities or at rest.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty sleeping or feeling the need to sleep a lot more than usual.
  • Decreased urination.
  • Restlessness, confusion.
  • Constant dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Nausea or poor appetite.

Always keep the following close to your phone for easy access: A list of your doctors' phone numbers, a current list of your medications and dosages, as well as any allergies you have.

When should I seek emergency care?

Go to your local accident and emergency department or dial 999 if you have:

  • New chest pain or discomfort that is severe, unexpected and occurs with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or weakness.
  • Fast heart rate (more than 120-150 beats per minute) -- especially if you are short of breath.
  • Shortness of breath not relieved by rest.
  • Sudden weakness or paralysis (inability to move) in your arms or legs.
  • Sudden onset of a severe headache.
  • Fainting spell with loss of consciousness.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 01, 2016

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