Recognizing signs and symptoms of heart failure1


Heart Failure Symptoms: 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.



Heart Failure Symptoms: Shortness of breath 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 Symptoms: Tiredness


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.



Heart Failure Symptoms: Swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen

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.

Heart Failure Symptoms: 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.



Heart Failure Symptoms: Sudden 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.



Heart Failure Symptoms: Rapid heartbeat

Rapid heartbeat

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



Heart Failure Symptoms: Can’t Think Clearly/Confusion

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.


Heart Failure Symptom Checker

To learn more about the symptoms of heart failure, and how you can check them, take a look at our online symptom checker which Novartis developed with patient groups and expert doctors.

The symptom checker includes the main symptoms of heart failure and is designed to help you evaluate these potential symptoms. It can serve as a basis for discussion with your doctors. The symptom checker is not intended to be used to diagnose heart failure or to replace medical advice.

Check your symptoms



Eight key symptoms of heart failure infographic

Download and print this handy infographic to recognize your symptoms straightaway.



1: Managing heart failure symptoms. Available at : Accessed November 7’ 2016.