What Are The Stages Leading Up To Heart Failure And Its Subsequent Progression?

Question: What are the major symptoms of heart failure, or how do I know if I have heart failure?

Answer: So the American College of Cardiology has four stages to heart failure. The first stage, Stage A, is a stage in which you don't actually have heart failure and you don't actually have anything structurally wrong with your heart. You're just at risk for developing heart failure. So, for example, if you have high blood pressure, if you have diabetes, or if you are taking medications that can cause heart failure, you're at risk for heart failure and this is Stage A.

Stage B is when you physically have something structurally wrong with your heart or physically wrong with your heart but you don't actually have symptoms. So, if you've had a heart attack and you have had weakness of the heart muscle, or if you have problems with your heart valve and weakness in the heart muscle as a result of that, that would be Stage B heart failure. You have something structurally wrong with your heart but you don't have symptoms.

Stage C heart failure is when you have something wrong with your heart structurally and you develop symptoms of heart failure. And these can include trouble breathing or swelling in your legs.

Stage D heart failure is very severe heart failure and you'll have symptoms with very little activity, such as if you're just walking from one room to the other. Or you might have symptoms when you're sleeping at night or when you're resting. And this usually causes a profound amount of swelling in your legs, a profound difficulty breathing, and usually requires serious hospitalization.