Congestive heart failure is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the heart is unable to efficiently pump adequate levels of blood and oxygen through the body. Approximately 2.5 million women in the United States are affected by the symptoms of congestive heart failure each year, according to medical professionals with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Women who develop congestive heart failure symptoms require immediate medical care.
Sudden, rapid weight gain is one of the earliest symptoms of congestive heart failure in women. Weight gain occurs because inefficient heart muscle function causes fluid to accumulate within the body. Affected women may also notice that their feet, ankles, legs or arms appear unusually puffy or swollen due to fluid retention. Women who gain 2 lbs. or more over 24 hours or 5 lbs. or more within five days should seek medical care immediately, advises MedlinePlus, a health information website supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Fluid that accumulates within the lungs--a condition called pulmonary edema--can cause breathing difficulties in women experiencing congestive heart failure, explain medical professionals with the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Affected women can experience shortness of breath after minimal physical movement, such as walking up a flight of stairs. Episodes of coughing or wheezing can also occur in women with this heart condition. Additionally, women with pulmonary edema can have difficulty breathing while lying down or may feel a gurgling or bubbling sensation within the chest or lungs. These breathing difficulties may arise suddenly and can quickly advance. Women who experience any of these lung-related symptoms of congestive heart failure require immediate, emergency medical intervention to prevent potentially life-threatening medical complications.
Certain women with this heart condition can develop stomach upset symptoms, such as nausea, fullness or bloating. These symptoms can contribute to a decreased appetite in affected women. Women who experience persistent or unexplained stomach upset symptoms accompanied by chest discomfort should contact a doctor immediately as these symptoms can also be signs of a heart attack.
Heart Rate Abnormalities
Congestive heart failure can cause heart rate abnormalities in affected women. Patients with this condition may notice that their heart rate is unusually fast, explains the Cleveland Clinic. These heart rate changes can also occur in conjunction with sensations of dizziness or episodes of fainting. Women who experience any of these congestive heart failure symptoms require prompt medical attention.