When someone is suffering from congestive heart failure, a condition has developed where the heart can no longer pump enough blood to and from its ventricles to accommodate the needs of the body. This causes an abnormal amount of blood to remain in other organs, "congesting" the tissue and depriving the heart of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Though the word failure suggests that the heart stops working, it actually means the organ just doesn't pump as effectively as normal. This can cause respiratory problems as well as other complications for the individual.
For some people, congestive heart failure triggers a cough that is both productive and persistent in nature. And much like your typical cough, it often produces mucus, but this mucus varies in appearance based on the type of heart failure. With the chronic form of the condition, this phlegm is usually white or pink and streaked with blood. In acute heart failure, the mucus is frequently pink and foamy.
Often preceding this cough is a state of breathlessness. This shortness of breath or inability to catch one's breath is typically experienced during times of both physical exertion and resting on the back. Not only is breathlessness associated with a cough, it is commonly felt in conjunction with wheezing, weakness and fatigue.
Along with both cough and breathlessness, many people with congestive heart failure suffer from heart palpitations. These palpitations may manifest as irregular, uneven or rapid heartbeats. Sometimes, they are also followed by a pain or tightness within the chest.
Many times, congestive heart failure triggers fluid retention. As more and more fluid accumulates in the body, certain areas begin to swell. The most common are the feet, ankles and legs, but it can also occur within the abdominal region of the body.
While cough, breathlessness, palpitations and swelling are some of the more common symptoms of congestive heart failure, this condition can also cause nausea, loss of appetite and a lack of concentration.