Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Triggers of Sudden Heart Failure

Triggers of Sudden Heart Failure

Overview

Triggers are anything that make your heart failure flare up. A flare-up is also called "sudden heart failure" or "acute heart failure." When you have a flare-up, fluid builds up in your lungs, and you have problems breathing. You might need to go to the hospital. By watching for changes in your condition and avoiding triggers, you can prevent heart failure flare-ups.

Pay attention to your symptoms

Symptoms of heart failure start to happen when your heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of your body.

In the early stages of heart failure, you may:

  • Feel tired easily.
  • Be short of breath when you exert yourself.
  • Feel like your heart is pounding or racing (palpitations).
  • Feel weak or dizzy.

As heart failure gets worse, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This may cause you to:

  • Feel short of breath even at rest.
  • Have swelling (edema), especially in your legs, ankles, and feet.
  • Gain weight. This may happen over just a day or two, or more slowly.
  • Cough or wheeze, especially when you lie down.
  • Feel bloated or sick to your stomach.

Avoid triggers

If you know what things trigger your heart failure symptoms to get worse, you can try to avoid them. Avoiding triggers can help you feel better and may prevent sudden heart failure.

People have different triggers. But common ones include eating too much salt, missing a dose of medicine, and exercising too hard.

  • Keep the same schedule.

    As much as you can, keep your diet, exercise, and medicine schedules the same every day.

  • Limit sodium.

    Be aware of how much sodium you are consuming. Your doctor can tell you how much sodium is right for you.

  • Take medicines as prescribed.

    Take your medicines at the same time every day. Not taking medicine is a trigger for some people.

  • Avoid some medicines.

    Avoid medicines that can make heart failure symptoms worse. Work with your doctor and pharmacist to choose over-the-counter medicines, such as cold medicines and pain relievers, that are safer for you.

  • Be active, but be careful.

    Exercise is good for your heart. But exercising too much or too hard can stress your heart and make symptoms worse. Check with your doctor before you start or change an exercise program. Do not exercise when you don't feel well. Watch for signs that your heart is being stressed, and know when to stop and rest.

Other things to know

Certain health problems can cause sudden heart failure. These include:

  • Lung infections, such as pneumonia.
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Conditions that affect your need for oxygen. These may include:
    • Fever.
    • Anemia (not having enough red blood cells).
    • Thyroid problems.
    • Poorly controlled diabetes.

Certain medicines used to treat heart rhythm problems may also increase the risk of heart failure.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Heart Failure

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details