My Symptoms of Heart Failure
Last updated: November 2023
The symptoms of heart failure seem to vary between patients. According to the American Heart Association, heart failure signs are shortness of breath, persistent coughing or wheezing, the buildup of excess fluid in body tissues, tiredness, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, confusion, and increased heart rate.1
Although some people may experience some of these symptoms they are not the only symptoms. For me, I did not know I was in advanced heart failure until it was too late. By then I had already suffered a 2nd stroke. I did not know my heart function was going down the way it was, so I was not sure what was wrong with me.
This all started earlier, at the end of the summer my cardiologist had switched my carvedilol (coreg) for bisoprolol. This is when I started feeling the effects of heart failure.
The symptoms of heart failure that I experienced
Shortness of breath
The first symptom of heart failure I began to feel was shortness of breath. For my mom's birthday, we went to an apple orchard and it was so hard for me to walk before I was experiencing shortness of breath. We went to walk at the monuments in D.C and I had to stop walking because it was just too hard for me.
Being an athlete, this was hard for me to accept because I was used to being active all my life and it was slowly slipping away. Laying down flat was another thing that was hard for me, and it felt like I could not breathe when it was time to sleep. My doctor even prescribed an inhaler for me to see if it would help, but it did not.
Fatigue was the next symptom of heart failure that affected me as well.
I remember being so tired and winded. I could not exercise like I used to because I was too tired. Then I got a job working at the Pentagon, and it was so hard walking because the Pentagon is like a city in itself. You had to walk everywhere too. They even have a map that employees had to memorize or else you could get lost in there.
The last straw was when I was at the Miami airport checking in for my flight. Those of you who have been to Miami airport know how huge it is. Maneuvering through the airport was a hard task especially when you are tired and winded.
Nausea and vomiting
The next symptom was nausea and vomiting. I remember not being able to keep anything down and feeling nauseous every day. It was around Thanksgiving when I began to notice the problems with keeping food down.
In the very end, I was even vomiting up my medication, and that includes the blood thinner prescribed for me. The doctors were saying dehydration was the cause of the vomiting. I had been to the urgent care twice and they all kept saying the same thing, that I was dehydrated.
Confusion is something that we do not hear a lot of people talking about when it comes to heart failure symptoms. I started having hallucinations, and weird dreams at night. I hated when the night came because that meant I had to sleep. I would get hot and sweaty to the point that I was restless. The doctors even had me on anti-anxiety medications when they diagnosed me with advanced heart failure.
One of the other symptoms that occurred was edema. I did not know that the extra weight gain was not due to my getting older. They always say when you are young enjoy being small because when you get older the weight piles on. The weight was mostly on my stomach and I did not know what was happening to me.
It felt like my whole body was swollen. When I was in the hospital is when the doctors noticed my legs and feet swelling up with water so they took me off of the IV fluid. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me until one day a doctor from the Cath lab came up to see us. He told us that he wanted to do a right heart catheterization to see my heart function.
In the end, they concluded that my heart was in advanced heart failure. Everyone has different symptoms of heart failure and they may be different from what I experienced.
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