My Health Partner Logo
Home / Heart failure / Why get checked ?
Living with Heart Failure
You can find all the necessary information to understand heart failure, its global impact, its causes and consequences, and how to get heart failure under control.
Heart failure

Why get checked ?

Is heart failure a common disease?
Heart failure is a real public health problem: it is important to be diagnosed by a doctor!

64 million

Cases of HF in the world, more than halft of which were classes as severe1

1 in 5

Adults over 40 years of age will have HF in their lifetime2


Projected increase by 2023 of the number of people diagnosed with HF3

Main risk factors are:4,5

What do I need to pay attention to?
High Blood Pressure
Your heart works harder than it has to if your blood pressure is high, and it can damage your blood vessels.
Having diabetes means your blood sugar is high. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels.
People who are obese have a higher risk of developing heart failure since being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure.
Coronary Artery Disease
Narrowed arteries may limit your heart’s supply of oxygen-rich blood, resulting in weakened heart muscle.
Certain medications
Some medications may lead to heart failure or heart problems. Discuss with your doctor whether you need to make any changes in your medications.
Drinking too much alcohol and using tobacco can weaken heart muscle and lead to heart failure.
Irregular heartbeats
These abnormal rhythms, especially if they are very frequent and fast, can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.

There are several physiological criteria that you can monitor such as:

arrow circle
arrow circle
Blood pressure
arrow circle
Heart rate
arrow circle
Physical activity
arrow circle

How do I measure my heart rate at home?6

Most of the time, it is your doctor or another health care professional who will measure your heart rate, but you can also monitor your heart rate by yourself, by “taking your pulse” in your wrist or neck.
Rest at least 5 minutes
If you want to find your pulse in your wrist, hold your left or right palm facing upwards and with the other hand, place your index and middle fingers (not the thumb) on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of your thumb.If you want to find your pulse in your neck, place your index and middle fingers (not the thumb) to the side of your neck, just below your jawbone and beside your windpipe.3
Press your fingers: you should feel a throbbing, this is your pulse. If you can’t find it, try moving your two fingers around a bit and pressing a little harder.
Using a clock, or counting in your head, count the number of beats for 30 seconds and multiply by two to get your heart rate.
Don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about how to measure your heart rate, how often, and how to interpret your results.
illustration pink woman doing yoga

You can act on heart failure. Download this leaflet to see what you can do.

Developed by Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology

How is heart failure diagnosed?

What you may report

  • Dyspnea (breathlessness)
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased excercise tolerance


What your doctor identifies?

  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Pulmonary rales
  • Pleural effusion
  • Edema or weight gain
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Raised jugular venous pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
Identifying risk factors and comorbidities is also very important (see more details in What do I need to pay attention to?)

There are a number of different tests to perform to confirm the diagnosis of heart failure, such as chest X-rays, ECG (electrocardiogram), and laboratory tests, such as brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels.9

Signs that should alert you

What should I do if I think my heart failure is getting worse and I have increasing symptoms?
If, for example, you feel that your breathing is getting gradually worse or you notice progressive weight gain, then you should contact your doctor or nurse and ask for an appointment as soon as possible.

Call for immediate help if you experience

arrow circle
Persistent chest pain that is not relieved by nitroglycerin
arrow circle
Severe and persistent shortness of breath
arrow circle

Inform your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you experience​

arrow circle
Increasing shortness of breath and tolerating less and less activity
arrow circle
Consistently awakening short of breath
arrow circle
Needing more pillows to sleep comfortably
arrow circle
Rapid heart rate or worsening palpitations

Discuss with your doctor or nurse if you experience​

arrow circle
Rapid weight gain of more than 2 kg (3 lbs) in 3 days
arrow circle
Progressive swelling or pain in the abdomen
arrow circle
Increasing swelling of the legs or ankles
arrow circle
Worsening dizziness
arrow circle
Loss of appetite/nausea
arrow circle
Increasing fatigue
arrow circle
Worsening cough
illustration pink woman doing yoga

Prepare your appointment with your doctor and nurse.

This brochure contains all the questions you need to ask

Developed by Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology