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Recognizing signs & symptoms of heart failure


Even though heart failure is a chronic condition, it can be effectively managed. This means that being able to recognize and check the symptoms of chronic heart failure especially important.

Watch the animation below to see these brought to life or read more on the key symptoms of heart failure below.

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath

Heart failure can cause the fluid in your body to gather in your lungs which may cause you to feel short of breath during everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs.

when lying down

Shortness of breath when lying down

Lying flat may also make you feel short of breath so that you need to sleep sat up or with multiple pillows.



Heart failure means less oxygen-rich blood is circulating the body. Because your muscles and tissues need oxygen for energy, this means people with heart failure can feel tired very easily.


Swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen

Clothes or shoes might feel tighter as fluid in the body builds up in the legs, ankles or abdomen causing them to swell up.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite

A build-up of fluid around the gut can affect digestion and might cause a loss of appetite, or make you feel sick when eating.

Weight increase

Sudden weight increase

Worsening heart failure may cause an increase in weight of more than two kilograms (about six pounds) in one week because fluid builds up in your body.

Rapid heartbeat

Rapid heartbeat

The heart sometimes starts to speed up to compensate for its reduced ability to pump blood around the body.


Frequency of urination

A reduced amount of blood reaches your kidneys when you have heart failure, causing you to urinate less frequently.

Conversely, if you take diuretics (eg. water pills), you might urinate more frequently, when the excess fluid in your body is eliminated.

If you have heart failure, or care for someone who does, Keep It Pumping is here for you. Learn more about living with heart failure on our website or join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

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