Acute Heart Failure Quiz

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Osler Jay Justo Guzon

Osler Jay Justo Guzon, MD (Cardiology)

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Learn more about Acute heart failure

Content updated on Sep 20, 2022

What is acute heart failure?

Heart failure or congestive heart failure, is a condition where your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body's oxygen demands. Acute heart failure occurs when there is sudden development of new or worsening symptoms of heart failure. Causes include genetics or lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, etc.

Symptoms of acute heart failure

  • Feeling breathless

  • History of heart failure

  • Waking up at night with difficulty in breathing

  • Sensation of pressure in the chest

  • Difficulty breathing when lying down, which improves when sitting up

  • Noisy breathing; e.g. wheezing, rattling

  • Swollen legs / fluid retention in the legs

  • Chest discomfort with exercise

Questions your doctor may ask to check for acute heart failure

Your doctor may ask these questions to diagnose acute heart failure

  • Are you breathless or having hard time breathing?

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with heart problems?

  • Have you ever woken up at night because you were breathless or struggling to breathe?

  • Do you feel pressure over your chest?

  • Do you have breathing difficulty when lying down which improves when you sit up?

Treatment for acute heart failure

Treatment involves supporting breathing, controlling blood pressure and removing excess fluid from the body if necessary. There is no cure, but long-term treatment with medications and rehabilitation can improve the heart's function.

View the symptoms of Acute heart failure


  • Arrigo M, Jessup M, Mullens W, Reza N, Shah AM, Sliwa K, Mebazaa A. Acute heart failure. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2020 Mar 5;6(1):16. doi: 10.1038/s41572-020-0151-7. PMID: 32139695; PMCID: PMC7714436.

  • Kurmani S, Squire I. Acute Heart Failure: Definition, Classification and Epidemiology. Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2017 Oct;14(5):385-392. doi: 10.1007/s11897-017-0351-y. PMID: 28785969; PMCID: PMC5597697.

  • Sinnenberg L, Givertz MM. Acute heart failure. Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2020 Feb;30(2):104-112. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2019.03.007. Epub 2019 Apr 2. PMID: 31006522.

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