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Is swelling in the wrists caused by heart failure?

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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16701 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 28 Apr 2017 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Question: IS the swelling in my wrists, primarily left caused by congestive heart failure? Both Ankles are swollen as well. left more pronounced.
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 46 minutes later
Brief Answer:
swelling of the upper limb would occur in severe heart failure

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Congestive heart failure can cause generalized swelling but it would have to be severe heart failure at that stage.

In the initial stages there may be swelling of the feet but swelling of the hands would be more likely in severe heart disease.

Heart failure is also associated with shortness of breath (due to fluid collecting in the lungs) initially on activities and as it progresses, at rest. Fatigue and palpitations also occur with shortness of breath. You can find these in the New York Heart Association Functional classification of heart failure, the most widely used means of classifying heart failure.

At the point where the swelling has spread to your upper limbs, your doctor would be hearing fluid in your lungs. Remember the swelling would be almost rising in heart failure, involve the ankles, going to the legs and thighs (at this stage fluid in the lungs), abdomen.

The ankle swelling as mentioned can occur in heart failure, though it is more commonly uniform/equal.

Other causes of swelling of the joints are: (1) trauma
(2) autoimmune diseases such as lupus or RA
(3)other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis
(4)trauma or infection

Liver or kidney disease would also be initially associated with swelling of the ankles only and only in very severe cases would there be generalized changes.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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