Congestive Heart Failure

Do Swollen Ankles Mean I Have Heart Failure?

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Summary & Participants

Swollen ankles can be a symptom of heart failure but swelling can also be a result of factors unrelated to the heart so it's important to recognize the difference.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: One common symptom of heart failure is edema which is swelling in the body due to fluid buildup. Swelling can occur in the ankles, legs and lower back.

JACQUELINE NOONAN, MD: Swollen ankles are common. They're common in the summertime, they're common when you sit with your legs down, if you've been on an airplane. They also can occur in heart failure, but the fact that you have swollen ankles does not necessarily or probably very often really mean that you have heart failure.

MANDEEP MEHRA: Swollen ankles can occur from a variety of different things. There are some medicines that can in fact result in swollen ankles. But when you have a swollen ankle, it is critical that you see a physician. It could be an insight into the early development of heart failure. The physician should be able to examine the patient and come up with a differential diagnosis that tells them whether these swollen ankles are really because of heart failure, or do they represent a medication side effect, for instance?