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Harvard doctor shares five heart failure symptoms everyone should know about

by , 11 July 2017
Harvard doctor shares five heart failure symptoms everyone should know about
It's inevitable: In your sixth and seventh decades, your body begins to slow down. For example, climbing a flight once stairs that you could once run up may now feel as strenuous as climbing Mount Everest. While vitality loss can be attributed to natural ageing to a certain degree, fatigue and shortness of breath are also potential heart failure symptoms...

“There's a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and attribute them to just getting older,” according to Dr Mandeep R Mehra, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in the United States. Because of this, Dr Mehra has created an easy way to identify heart failure symptoms: A handy tool known as the FACES acronym.

The FACES acronym helps spot a possible combination of heart failure symptoms

F is for fatigue
A general feeling of fatigue or tiredness sets in when your heart is no longer able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to fulfil your body’s energy needs.
A is for activity limitation
One of the most reliable signs of a failing heart is when you’re unable to carry out your normal daily activities because you become tired and short of breath so easily.


According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the average South

African has a heart age eight years older than the real age


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C is congestion
A build-up of fluid in your lungs can lead to breathing difficulty, wheezing and coughing.
E is for edema or ankle swelling
Fluid can accumulate in your ankles, legs, thighs and abdomen when your heart doesn’t have enough strength to pump used blood back up from lower extremities, resulting in swelling. Excess fluid can sometimes cause rapid weight gain as well.
S is for shortness of breath
Fluid in your lungs makes it harder for your heart to exchange carbon dioxide in used blood for fresh oxygen. It may also be more difficult to breathe when you’re lying down because gravity lets fluid from below your lungs travel up your torso.
While these heart failure symptoms don’t confirm a heart failure diagnosis by themselves, they do convey a sense of urgency to get medical attention, stresses Dr Mehra.

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