Increasing fatigue

People with heart failure may feel constantly tired and have difficulty performing daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Exercise intolerance and fatigue are often the most common symptoms of heart failure.

This tiredness or fatigue occurs because less blood reaches the muscles and tissues, due to the reducing pumping ability of the heart. The body diverts blood away from the less vital organs, such as the muscles in the limbs, and sends it to the heart, brain and kidneys instead. Fatigue can also occur because the body is not removing waste products as quickly as it should.

It’s a good idea to keep a diary of your energy levels on a normal day and after certain activities so you can monitor any changes. It’s important to remember that regular, moderate exercise is recommended for people with heart failure as this helps reduce the workload on the heart. However, if you feel your energy levels are decreasing this may be an early sign that your heart failure is getting worse. Increasing fatigue can also suggest other medical problems such as anaemia or thyroid problems. You should inform your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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