What are the symptoms of left-sided heart failure?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Symptoms for left-sided heart failure include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Left-sided heart failure is the most common form of heart failure. During left-sided heart failure, fluid accumulates in the lungs. At first, the accumulation may be small resulting in shortness of breath during periods of exertion. As heart failure worsens and more fluid accumulates, breathing may become difficult, even at rest. A person experiencing left-sided heart failure may wake from sleep gasping for air. These symptoms can be eased by sitting up, because the gravity allows the fluids to drain to the bottom of the lungs. A person suffering from advanced heart failure may experience an unusual breathing pattern (Cheyne-Stokes) characterized by episodes of rapid and deep breathing followed by several seconds without breath. This unusual breathing pattern is caused when the brain receives low-oxygenated blood.

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