Heart failure is in most cases a result of other cardiovascular diseases. Common causes are high blood pressure that lasts for years, coronary heart disease, or a previous heart attack. You can find more information below.

Other names for heart failure:

  • congestive heart failure
  • heart failure
  • right heart failure
  • left heart failure
  • acute heart failure
  • chronic heart failure
  • heart weakness
  • heart muscle weakness
  • Mitral regurgitation

What is heart failure?

Heart failure , also known as congestive heart failure , is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In some cases, not enough blood is supplied to the heart. In other cases, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Some people have both these problems. The term heart failure, or heart failure, does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working, but it is still an emergency that requires medical attention.

If enough blood cannot be supplied to the heart or if the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body, this can lead to heart failure as time progresses. This condition can only affect the right side of the heart and is called right heart failure . When it affects the left side, it is called left heart failure . However, there are cases where both sides are affected, and in most cases both sides of the heart are affected.

Right-sided heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the lungs to get oxygen. Left-sided heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

Right-sided heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the veins in the feet, ankles, legs, liver, abdomen, and neck. Both right and left heart failure can also cause shortness of breath and fatigue.

The leading causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart. Among the examples; include ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Heart failure causes and risk factors

Things that damage the heart muscle or overwork the heart can cause heart failure. Over time, the heart weakens. It cannot fill or pump blood as much as it should. As the heart weakens, some proteins and substances may be released into the blood. These substances have a toxic effect on the heart and blood flow and worsen heart failure.

Causes of heart failure include:

  • ischemic heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Other heart conditions or diseases
  • Other factors

Ischemic heart disease

Ischemic heart disease is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries . These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.

Plaque narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. Plaque buildup also increases the chances of blood clots forming in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow. Ischemic heart disease can lead to chest pain or conditions such as angina, heart attack, and other heart damage.


Diabetes (diabetes) is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar level is too high. The body normally breaks down food into glucose and then transports it to cells throughout the body. Cells use a hormone called insulin to convert glucose into energy.

In the case of diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage and weaken the heart muscle and blood vessels around the heart, which can lead to heart failure.


Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can weaken your heart and cause plaque to build up.

Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time. (MmHg is millimeters of mercury – units used to measure blood pressure.) If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher.

Other heart conditions and diseases

The following other conditions and diseases can also cause heart failure:

  • Arrhythmia: Occurs when a problem occurs with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • Cardiomyopathy: It happens when the heart muscle enlarges, thickens, or stiffens.
  • Congenital heart defects: There are problems with the structure of the heart at birth.
  • Valve disease: In this condition, one or more of your heart valves are not working properly.
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Other factors

The following other factors can also damage the heart muscle and lead to heart failure:

  • Alcohol abuse or use of cocaine and other illegal drugs
  • HIV / AIDS
  • thyroid disorders
  • too much vitamin E
  • Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy

Who is at risk for heart failure?

The following people are more at risk of developing heart failure than other people:

  • People 65 and older: Aging can weaken the heart muscle. Older people may have diseases that lead to heart failure for years.
  • Race: Black people are more likely to develop heart failure than other races. They’re also more likely to have symptoms at a younger age, have more hospital visits for heart failure, and die from heart failure.
  • Overweight people: Excess weight strains the heart. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These diseases can lead to heart failure.
  • People who have had a heart attack : People who have had a previous heart attack have a damaged heart and can weaken the heart muscle.

Children with congenital heart defects can also develop heart failure. These defects occur when the heart, heart valves, or blood vessels near the heart do not form correctly while the baby is in the womb. Congenital heart defects can cause the heart to work harder. This weakens the heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure.

heart failure symptoms

The most common symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Swelling in ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and veins

All these symptoms are the result of fluid buildup in your body . When symptoms begin, you may feel tired and short of breath after routine physical exertion, such as climbing stairs.

As your heart weakens, symptoms worsen. After getting dressed and walking around the room, you may feel tired and start to feel short of breath. Some people experience shortness of breath even when lying down.

Fluid buildup from heart failure also causes weight gain, frequent urination, and coughing that is worse at night and when lying down. This cough may be a sign of acute pulmonary edema. This is a condition in which too much fluid builds up in your lungs and requires immediate treatment.

Diagnosis of heart failure

Your doctor will diagnose heart failure based on your medical and family history, physical exam, and test results. Symptoms of heart failure are also common in other conditions such as: Therefore, your doctor will take the following steps:

  • He or she will want to know if you have a disease or condition that could cause heart failure, such as ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
  • He or she will want to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.
  • He or she will check for any damage to your heart and how well your heart is pumping blood.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help people with heart failure live longer, more active lives.

Medical and family history

Your doctor will ask if you or others in your family have a disease or condition that can cause heart failure. Your doctor will also ask about your symptoms. He or she will want to know what symptoms you have, when they appear, how long you have had them, and how severe they are.

physical examination

During the physical exam, your doctor will:

  • He or she will check for abnormal sounds in your heart.
  • He or she will listen to your lungs for sounds that could be a sign of extra fluid buildup.
  • He or she will look for swelling in the veins in your ankles, feet, legs, stomach, and neck.

Diagnostic tests

If you have symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may want to use the following diagnostic methods:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)

an EKG; It is a simple, painless test that electrically measures the activity of the heart. The test shows how fast your heart is beating and its rhythm. The EKG also records the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through your heart.

An EKG can also show if the walls in your heart’s pumping chambers are thicker than normal. Thicker walls can make it harder for your heart to pump blood. An EKG can also show signs of a previous or current heart attack.

  • chest x-ray

a chest X-ray ; It provides a view of structures found inside the chest, such as the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This test can show if your heart is enlarged, if you have fluid in your lungs, or if you have lung disease.

  • blood test for BNP
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This test checks the level of a hormone called BNP in your blood. The level of this hormone rises during heart failure.

  • echocardiography

Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. The test shows the size and shape of your heart, and how well your heart chambers and valves are working. It can also identify poor blood flow to the heart, areas of heart muscle that do not contract normally, and heart muscle damage caused by a lack of blood flow.

  • Doppler ultrasound

Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to measure the speed and direction of blood flow. This test is usually done with echocardiography to provide a more complete picture of blood flow to the heart and lungs. Doctors often use Doppler ultrasound to help diagnose right heart failure.

  • Holter monitor

A Holter monitor records your heart’s electrical activity over a 24- or 48-hour period while the normal daily routine continues. In this procedure, small patches called electrodes are worn on the chest. Cables connect patches to a small, portable recorder. The recorder can be attached to a belt, kept in a pocket, or hung around your neck.

  • nuclear heart scan

A nuclear heart scan shows how much blood reaches your heart and heart muscle.

During a nuclear heart scan, a safe, radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into your bloodstream through a vein. The spectator goes to your heart and releases the energy. Special cameras outside of your body detect the energy and are used to create pictures of your heart.

A nuclear heart scan can show where in the heart muscle is healthy and where is damaged.

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a type of nuclear heart scan. It shows the level of chemical activity in areas of your heart. This test can help your doctor see if enough blood is flowing to these areas. A PET scan can show blood flow problems that other tests may not detect.

  • cardiac catheterization

During cardiac catheterization, a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck and threaded into your heart. This allows your doctor to look at your coronary arteries.

During this procedure, your doctor may check the pressure and blood flow in your heart chambers, collect blood samples, and take X-rays to look at your coronary arteries.

  • Coronary angiography

Coronary angiography is usually performed in conjunction with cardiac catheterization. An X-ray-visible dye is injected into your bloodstream through the tip of the catheter. The dye allows your doctor to see the blood flow in your heart muscle. Angiography also shows how well your heart is pumping blood.

  • stress test

Some heart problems are easier to diagnose when your heart is working hard and beating fast. During a stress test, you exercise to keep your heart working hard and beating fast. You can walk or run on a treadmill or ride a bike. If you are unable to exercise, you may be given medication to raise your heart rate.

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create a picture of your heart beating. The test produces both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels.

Cardiac MRI can show whether parts of your heart are damaged. Doctors may also use MRI in research studies to find early signs of heart failure even before symptoms appear.

  • Thyroid function tests

Thyroid function tests show how well your thyroid gland is working. These tests include blood tests, imaging tests, and tests that stimulate the thyroid. Having too much or too little thyroid hormone in the blood can lead to heart failure.

Heart failure treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment can help people with heart failure live longer, more active lives. Heart failure treatment depends on the type and severity of heart failure.

Treatment goals for all stages of heart failure include:

  • Treating the underlying cause, such as ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Treatment to reduce symptoms
  • stop worsening of heart failure
  • Increasing your life expectancy and improving your quality of life

Treatments often include heart-focused healthy lifestyle changes, medications, and ongoing care. If you have severe heart failure, you may also need medical procedures or surgery.


Your doctor will prescribe medications based on the type of heart failure you have, how severe it is, and your reaction to certain medications. The following drugs are often used to treat heart failure:

  • ACE inhibitors: They lower blood pressure and reduce the strain on your heart. It may also reduce the risk of future heart attacks.
  • Aldosterone antagonists: They trigger the removal of excess sodium from the body through urine. This lowers the volume of blood the heart has to pump.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers: They relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure to reduce your heart’s workload.
  • Beta blockers: They slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure to reduce your heart’s workload.
  • Digoxin: Makes the heart beat stronger and pump more blood.
  • Diuretics: Help reduce fluid build-up in your lungs and swelling in your feet and ankles.
  • Isosorbide dinitrate: It helps relax your blood vessels so your heart doesn’t have to work too hard to pump blood. Studies have shown that this drug can reduce the risk of death in black people. More studies are needed to find out if this drug would benefit other racial groups.
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You should take all the medicines your doctor prescribes regularly. You should not change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you to.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

regular maintenance

You should watch for signs that heart failure is getting worse. For example, weight gain may mean fluid buildup in your body. Ask your doctor how often you should check your weight and when to report weight changes.

It is important to seek medical care for other related conditions. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you should work with your healthcare team to control these conditions. You should also keep your blood sugar level and blood pressure under control. You can get information from your doctor about when you should be tested and how often you should measure at home.

You should try to avoid respiratory infections such as the flu and pneumonia. You can talk to your doctor about flu and pneumonia vaccines.

Many people with severe heart failure may need treatment in a hospital from time to time. Your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy, which can be given in the hospital or at home.

Medical procedures and surgery

As heart failure worsens, lifestyle changes and medications may no longer control your symptoms. A medical procedure or surgery may be required.

In heart failure, the right and left sides of the heart may not contract simultaneously. This impairs the pumping function of the heart. To correct this problem, your doctor may place a cardiac resynchronization therapy device (a type of pacemaker ) near your heart. This device helps both sides of the heart contract simultaneously, which can reduce heart failure symptoms.

Some people with heart failure have very fast, irregular heartbeats. Without treatment, these heartbeats can cause sudden cardiac arrest. To solve this problem, your doctor may place an implantable cardioverter defibrillator near your heart . This device controls your heart rate and uses electrical pulses to correct irregular heart rhythms.

People with severe heart failure symptoms despite other treatments may need:

  • A mechanical heart pump, such as a left ventricular assist device : This device helps pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A heart pump may be used until surgery or long-term treatment.
  • Heart transplant: A heart transplant is a procedure in which a person’s diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. A heart transplant is performed as a life-saving measure for end-stage heart failure when medical treatment and surgery fail.

Heart focused healthy lifestyle

If you have heart failure, your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle changes focused on the heart. Heart-focused healthy lifestyle changes include:

  • Healthy eating
  • staying at a healthy weight
  • physical activity
  • quit smoking
  • Don’t overdo the alcohol

Frequently asked questions about heart failure

How long does a person with heart failure live?

The life expectancy of a person with heart failure varies depending on the severity of the condition, genetic factors, age, and other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about half of people diagnosed with heart failure will live beyond five years.

Is there a cure for heart failure?

Doctors usually treat heart failure with a combination of drugs. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may require one medication or a combination of several different medications. In some cases, procedures such as a pacemaker and surgery may be required.

Does heart failure cause death?

Heart failure increases your risk of dying from a sudden cardiac arrest. About 50% of people will die five years after being diagnosed with heart failure, possibly from sudden cardiac arrest. But this is not certain, and many people live for many years, taking care of their health.

What happens as a result of heart failure?

Currently, there is no treatment that will definitively eradicate heart failure. However, things like medications and lifestyle changes can help people with the condition live longer and more active lives. Researchers continue to look for new ways to treat heart failure and its complications.

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