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Heart Failure

What Causes Heart Failure?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 09:55

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Heart failure may occur for a number of different reasons:

  • Because of chronic high blood pressure. When the blood pressure is high, the heart has to work much harder to pump blood through the arteries. This results in enlargement of the heart, especially the left ventricle, which is the heart's main pumping chamber, making it less efficient.

    For more detailed information about high blood pressure and its treatment, go to High Blood Pressure.

  • Because of coronary artery disease. The heart muscle itself may not be getting enough blood to do its work. This is usually caused by atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol and fatty substances or plaque on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle.

    For more detailed information about how to lower your blood cholesterol, go to Lowering Your Cholesterol.

  • Because of a previous heart attack. The heart muscle may have been weakened by a previous heart attack. During a heart attack, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, resulting in tissue death and scarring. The development of heart failure depends on the extent and location of the scarring.

    For more detailed information about heart attack, go to Heart Attack.

  • Because of diseased heart valves. A narrowed or leaking heart valve fails to direct blood flow properly through the heart. The problem may be something you were born with, an inherited condition, or the result of an infection such as endocarditis or rheumatic fever. This condition increases the heart's workload and increases the risk of heart failure.
  • Because of an irregular heart rate (cardiac arrhythmia). Irregular heart rates can lead to heart failure, but they usually have to be severe and last a long time. They change the pattern of filling and pumping of blood from the heart.

    For more detailed information about irregular heart beats and their treatments, go to Palpitations.

  • Because of cardiomyopathy. This condition is a disease of the heart muscle itself, which can lead to heart failure. Causes of cardiomyopathy include infection, alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse, and family predisposition.

Heart Failure