Causes, symptoms and diagnosis

Long term conditions: Heart failure - causes, symptoms and diagnosis


Symptoms of heart failure include:

  • tiredness
  • breathlessness
  • feet and ankle swelling
  • 'bloated' feeling
  • reduced appetite

However some people experience very few symptoms and their heart failure may only be discovered by a special heart scan known as an echocardiogram.


It is not always possible to find the cause of heart failure, but causes can include:

  • a history of heart attacks
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart valve disease
  • viral illness
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • high blood pressure


If you have symptoms of heart failure, it is important to tell your GP about them. Your GP will ask you questions and examine you. If they think you may have heart failure, they will probably refer you for tests, including a special heart scan known as an echocardiogram (an 'echo').