Symptoms of HF


Seeing the signs

Heart failure (HF) symptoms can be difficult to spot. This is because they could signify the presence of other conditions not directly related to HF, or merely be discounted and attributed to getting older or being out of shape. In fact, a recent survey commissioned by AstraZeneca showed that few people can identify the most common symptoms of heart failure.1

Awareness of the 3 main symptoms of HF is low.


Shortness of breath when resting or being active 

Feeling unusually tired or weak 

Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or the small of the back


People were asked to select one disease for each symptom from a list of heart failure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke or asthma1,2


Symptoms can include2,3:



Shortness of breath

This can occur even when not doing strenuous activities and may even be worse when lying down


Tiredness or fatigue

Feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise and physical activities exhausting


Swollen ankles, legs, or abdomen

Caused by a build-up of fluid 

Other, less common symptoms may include2,3:

• Rapid or irregular heart rate

• Lack of appetite and nausea

• Persistent coughing or wheezing

• Difficulty concentrating or confusion



So, because symptoms may have multiple possible sources, the best thing to do if you experience any, or especially a combination of these symptoms, is to go and have a chat with a doctor so they can assess your symptoms, family history and possibly undergo a few tests to see if you are at risk.



Know what to look out for with the symptoms of heart failure

Take our symptoms quiz


  1. AstraZeneca PLP. Data on File. ID: REF – 74964. March 2020
  2. NHS. Symptoms of heart failure. Available online at: Last accessed August 25 2020
  3. Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of Heart Failure. Available online at: Last accessed August 25 2020