Congestive Heart Failure and Leg Swelling: What’s the Connection?

Congestive Heart Failure and Leg Swelling: What’s the Connection?

Do your legs swell frequently? Can you tell the difference between your ankle and lower leg? You have edema. Your swollen legs aren’t only painful; they can be a sign of serious disease. 

Dr. Yogesh Paliwal, board-certified integrative cardiologist with Indus Cardiology, with three Southern California locations, is the expert you want to see if you have edema. Edema can result from a medication you take, but it’s often an early warning sign of congestive heart failure. 

What is congestive heart failure? 

Your heart’s pumping action sends life-giving oxygen and nutrients throughout your body via your circulatory system. Heart failure means your heart isn’t pumping blood properly. It’s in a weakened state, unable to send enough blood to all parts of your body.

When the heart’s pumping action is impaired, blood backs up in the veins in your body, including the veins that carry blood through your lungs. 

The increased pressure on your blood vessels pushes fluid into the spaces in your lungs that contain air. Now you can’t get your breath. When this happens, you have congestive heart failure. 

If you’ve ever had nasal congestion, you know how difficult it is to breathe through your nose. Likewise, with congestive heart failure, your lungs are congested, making it difficult to breathe air into your lungs. 

Edema can be an early sign of congestive heart failure

Edema is the technical term for swollen skin. Your skin may look stretched, taut, and/or shiny. That’s because an abnormal amount of fluid is encased in your soft tissue.

Swelling in your legs and feet is often an early symptom of congestive heart failure. That’s why it’s so important to make an appointment with a cardiologist. 

If your arteries have narrowed to the point where you have coronary artery disease or persistent high blood pressure, you can suffer permanent heart damage. 

Early and ongoing treatment can minimize damage and even save your life. Dr. Paliwal performs tests to determine if you have congestive heart failure or are at high risk. 

Swollen legs aren’t the only sign of heart trouble. You’ll likely have difficulty climbing stairs, and everyday tasks can cause extreme fatigue. 

If you ignore early signs of heart failure, you feel weak. You may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, a cough, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Preventive cardiology helps control congestive heart failure

Dr. Paliwal focuses on preventive health measures. If you have edema and congestive heart failure, he performs tests at intervals to make sure your condition hasn’t worsened. 

Lifestyle changes that Dr. Paliwal suggests can go a long way toward improving your health: Limit your salt intake, take off excess pounds, and cut back on alcohol consumption. 

Dr. Paliwal prescribes medications depending on your specific diagnosis. Options include ACE inhibitors and beta blockers that aid heart function and vasodilators that expand blood flow.


Call the Indus Cardiology location nearest you, in Pomona, Montclair, or West Covina, California, or send a message through our online portal today. Your heart health is our mission.

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