Breathlessness and fluid retention - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Breathlessness and fluid retention


My husband recently diagnosed with heart failure and on Bisoprolol, Furosemide and Doxazosin. I realise it’s important to check for fluid retention but other than check his ankles we’ve decided to weigh regularly a unsure how to know if it builds up around his middle. Could this make breathing worse?

Another query which worries me is we differ on what is ‘strenuous ‘ as he’s been told to avoid strenuous activities. What would happen if he overdoes it please? Is it likely to be really serious or would he just be tired and lacking energy?

This forum is such a help!

14 Replies

My husband, Jo, has only once in 30 years had fluid in his ankles but usually round his middle. It shows on his tummy. Mine shows lower back. Strange isn't it? But the breathlessness is usually connected with fluid getting into the lungs. I have noticed that we are both more tired when carrying round this fluid. Weighing is good as h.f. nurses tell you if weight increases more than 2 lbs overnight and you haven't been partying all night it's likely to be fluid. I can't help with the other question. Hope it all goes well. Mo.

Thanks for your input - very useful as at present it’s all new and a lot to take in.

My husband was told by his excellent heart failure nurse to weigh daily first thing: nude, after a pee, and to keep a record.

Exercise is very good and helpful but he doesn't want to push himself to the limit or suddenly go all-out. Walking is very good, squash inadvisible. Using the Borg effort scale can help.

Do ask the BHF nurses for advice.

Your husband seems to be on very little medication for heart failure.

Thanks - all very new at present . Reassuring to know that his medications seem to be relatively small as at least there’s the thought that there is more to help him if needed. Waiting for appointment with HF nurse and seeing cardiologist next week.

When I first was diagnosed I could noticeable feel fluid build up on the outside of my ankles and my waist. With the latter sometimes my belly button would also leak which was a horrible sensation. It then went to my legs and hamstring area, noticeably. My lungs were also full of water which was unbeknown to me at the time. Two weeks of taking Furosemide in hospital and this cleared up completely and now I only take one furosemide tablet every 2 days with no reoccurrence of fluid retention. I am also on Bisoprolol, Ramipril, Epelernone and Amiodarone.

Many thanks for your reply - hoping to spot it before it becomes a problem if possible. Sounds like you are doing well now - hopefully all will be ok.

I have heart failure and do get out of breath easily.Sometimes I puff just goi g upstairs and at other times I am okay. I had a period of months where I was really out of breath and could hardly walk even from house to car and had loads of fluid around my waist. The Furosomide sorted it out and I take 20mg per day now - also Ramapril, Amiodorone, Bisoprolol, Spironalactone and Aspirin. If I put on extra weight quickly I double the dose of Furosomide for a few days. I think my face gets fatter too! I see the HF nurse every 3 months and checks to see if she can hear fluid on my lungs.. I have an ICD which I have had for almost 9 years - it is due to be changed soon.

Many thanks - very useful info as all new to us. Awaiting first appointment with HF nurse and seeing cardiologist next week.

My husband has had CHF for 20 years and still leading a good life.

Pressure on the lungs as well as fluids seem like a common issue with CHF so it needs to be watched. Some signs are wheezing in the chest and progressive tiredness in that oxygen is not being delivered to the body since the lungs are not functioning properly. A finger oxygen reader is helpful to read your oxygen levels. You can purchase at the pharmacy or on amazon for under $10.

Also watch the salt intake. Not just from the shaker but from the food you eat. Most canned goods and processed foods have high amounts of sodium which is a major factor for water retention, high blood pressure and weight gain. I’ve learned to read the labels on everything and was amazed at how much salt we were unaware if eating.

CHF is a hard disease to predict much less understand and control....which is most frustrating to both the one that has it and the caregiver.

My husband is 84 and he just had an echo and his EF was 25-yet he lives a full and satisfying life.

A positive attitude is a must and as a wife and the caregiver. Giving my husband his daily dose of support and encouragement, I believe, is as important as making sure he takes his meds.

All the Best for a solid recovery

Yours from Across the Pond

Gardener17 in reply to not2worry

Thank you so much for such an informative and inspiring reply. Much appreciated! All best wishes to you both

Hi. I have heart failure too. Apart from the good advice to weigh regularly and watch out for visible signs of swelling, another symptom of fluid retention I've been told to look out for is loss of appetite, just because everything inside gets a bit squashed if there is an excess of fluid, I think. Another telling sign is if shoes suddenly feel tighter than usual.

Good luck to both of you :)

Thanks so much - useful tips!

20 Oct. 2016, Hi, I Had an Heart Attack at Home Followed by an Hour Later a Cardiac Arrest. I Survived,one of the Lucky Ones ! 3 Stents Fitted,put in Coma for 13 hours !

I'm 70 yrs Young and So Grateful ! 2017 ICD Fitted ! Water retention is a prob.of mine too,have Lymphedema as well. Breathlessness can be a big prob. Feel like I'm going to pass out. My Meds are Furosemide,Digoxin,Ramipril,Eplerenone,Ranitidine,Rivaroxaban,I Do some breathing exercises ,Bending can start Breathlessness ! Not Easy But try to stay calm !

Wishing You Both The Best For The Future ! xx

Gardener17 in reply to Malaga88

Wishing you all the best and that you sat as well as possible

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