When your heart isn’t able to pump effectively, it can lead to reduced circulation. If there’s less blood flowing through your kidneys, it can cause extra fluid to build up in your body. This can cause weight gain.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle grows too weak to effectively pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. As a result, several complications and symptoms can develop. One potential symptom is weight gain.
Heart failure can cause a buildup of fluids in the body, especially in the lower limbs and abdomen. This is known as edema. When you have excess fluid in your body, it causes you to weigh more. In some cases, unexplained weight gain is the first obvious sign of heart failure.
This article will take a closer look at how heart failure causes weight gain and what it means.
When you have heart failure, your heart isn’t able to pump an adequate amount of blood throughout your body. This leads to reduced circulation and less blood flow through your kidneys, which are responsible for getting rid of excess fluid and sodium in your body.
When blood flow through the kidneys is compromised, it can cause fluid and sodium to build up. Sometimes edema develops quickly. You might wake up one day and notice swelling in your legs or abdomen that wasn’t obvious the night before.
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, you may have also been advised to weigh yourself daily. This is the easiest way to identify early signs of edema that may not be apparent otherwise.
According to the
Each 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of increased weight corresponds to 1 additional liter of excess fluid.
If you notice rapid weight gain but haven’t been diagnosed with heart failure, let your doctor know. This is particularly important if you have a history of heart disease or if you’ve experienced other symptoms like:
The buildup of excess fluid in your body can put an extra burden on your organs, including your kidneys, lungs, and heart.
For example, fluid can build up in the lungs, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. This can lead to shortness of breath. In more severe situations, it may cause severe breathing difficulties that require immediate medical treatment.
In addition to monitoring your weight and taking note of any unexplained weight gain, the following may also be symptoms that heart failure is progressing:
- swelling in your abdomen or lower limbs
- shortness of breath
- fatigue that makes it difficult to perform daily activities
- changes in your blood pressure
- confusion or other cognitive issues
- heart palpitations or a racing heart
If any of these signs and symptoms develop or worsen, contact your healthcare team immediately.
Because weight gain with heart failure is usually caused by edema, the best way to manage your weight is by reducing the amount of fluid buildup in your body. Your doctor may recommend diuretics, which are medications that help your body get rid of excess fluids and sodium.
Diuretics cause frequent and increased urination as the excess fluid and sodium are flushed out in the urine.
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation. This program is designed to improve your cardiovascular health and quality of life if you have a problem with your heart.
A cardiac rehabilitation program is typically supervised by a team of medical professionals, like physical therapists, registered dietitians, doctors, and nurses, who will help you with:
- exercise programs and training
- heart-healthy diets and nutrition
- management of risk factors
- medication adherence
Can heart failure make it hard to lose weight?
Heart failure can make you retain water and develop edema, and it can happen fast. Having heart failure can make it difficult to lose weight because, in addition to water retention and edema, you can have symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and coughing.
What are the 4 signs your heart is quietly failing?
Four of the most common”quiet” early symptoms of heart failure include:
- edema or ankle swelling
- shortness of breath or coughing
- reduced stamina (can’t do as much)
See your doctor immediately if you have these symptoms.
Weight gain is common if you have heart failure. When your heart isn’t able to pump effectively, it can lead to reduced circulation. If there’s less blood flowing through your kidneys, it can cause extra fluid and sodium to build up in your body, causing swelling and weight gain.
In some cases, unexplained weight gain is the first obvious sign of heart failure. Other symptoms of heart failure can include fatigue, swelling in your legs or abdomen, shortness of breath, and a change in your resting heart rate or blood pressure.
If you have unexplained weight gain that happens quickly, it’s important that you get prompt medical attention.