What can swollen ankles mean after a heart attack?

Skydog1973 asked...

My husband had a heart attack 1 week ago. He received coronary angioplasty and a stent. He says he feels fine but why are his ankles swelling?  Sometimes he has shortness of breath and starts coughing.

Expert Answer

James Frank is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the V.A. Medical Center in San Francisco.

Swelling of the ankles, shortness of breath, and coughing are all symptoms of some degree of heart failure. But it's only been a week, so it's not cause for alarm. He'll have another evaluation in a few weeks, with an echocardiogram. And he'll continue to have medication adjustments to address any heart failure or persistent coronary artery disease. Also, as long as his blood flow has been restored, his heart function may improve over time. It's only been a week, so these symptoms aren't too surprising at this point.