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What is the cause of heart failure?

Tags: heart

What is the cause of heart failure?

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The answer

Thank you for your question, heart failure can occur after other conditions have damaged or weakened the heart and the heart itself can sometimes become ‘stiff’ within the walls of the chambers- these are known as ventricles- which can also cause heart failure. Heart failure can involve the left side or right side of the heart or both sides of the heart and commonly it begins on the left side within the left ventricle which is the hearts main pumping chamber. Below you will find a list of the types of failure that can occur and the symptoms associated with it:

  • Left-sided heart failure:Fluid may back up in your lungs, causing shortness of breath.
  • Right-sided heart failure:Fluid may back up into your abdomen, legs and feet, causing swelling.
  • Systolic heart failure:The left ventricle can't contract vigorously, indicating a pumping problem.
  • Diastolic heart failure (also called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction): The left ventricle can't relax or fill fully, indicating a filling problem.

Any of the following conditions can damage or weaken the heart and cause symptoms of heart failure to develop.:

  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack. Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease and the most common cause of heart failure. Over time, arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle narrow from a buildup of fatty deposits — a process called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaques can cause reduced blood flow to your heart.

A heart attack occurs if plaques formed by the fatty deposits in your arteries rupture. This causes a blood clot to form, which may block blood flow to an area of the heart muscle, weakening the heart's pumping ability and often leaving permanent damage. If the damage is significant, it can lead to a weakened heart muscle.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension). Blood pressure is the force of blood pumped by your heart through your arteries. If your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder than it should to circulate blood throughout your body.

Over time, the heart muscle may become thicker to compensate for the extra work it must perform. Eventually, your heart muscle may become either too stiff or too weak to effectively pump blood.

  • Faulty heart valves. The valves of your heart keep blood flowing in the proper direction through the heart. A damaged valve — due to a heart defect, coronary artery disease or heart infection — forces your heart to work harder to keep blood flowing as it should.

Over time, this extra work can weaken your heart. Faulty heart valves, however, can be fixed or replaced if found in time.

  • Damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). Heart muscle damage (cardiomyopathy) can have many causes, including several diseases, infections, alcohol abuse and the toxic effect of drugs, such as cocaine or some drugs used for chemotherapy.

Genetic factors play an important role in several types of cardiomyopathy, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, left ventricular noncompaction and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

  • Myocarditis. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It's most commonly caused by a virus and can lead to left-sided heart failure.
  • Heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects). If your heart and its chambers or valves haven't formed correctly, the healthy parts of your heart have to work harder to pump blood through your heart, which, in turn, may lead to heart failure.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (heart arrhythmias). Abnormal heart rhythms may cause your heart to beat too fast, which creates extra work for your heart. Over time, your heart may weaken, leading to heart failure. A slow heartbeat may prevent your heart from getting enough blood out to the body and may also lead to heart failure.

You can also read more about heart failure here:

Heart failure - NHS

And here: Heart failure - BHF

As you can see heart failure comes in several forms and there are many treatments which are available to treat and control this successfully once a diagnosis has been made.

We do hope you will find the above information useful, and please don’t hesitate to contact us again if we can be of any further help,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses