Heart failure is a common condition that usually develops slowly over time. As the heart muscle weakens, it works harder to keep blood flowing through the body. As the weakened heart muscle works harder to deliver enough oxygenated blood to the body, the muscle becomes bigger and eventually changes its shape leading to cardiac dysfunction and symptoms of heart failure. In most situations, heart failure (cardiac dysfunction) is caused by another existing health problem(s) or disease such as coronary artery disease, long-standing high blood pressure, or abnormal fast heart rhythms. These health problems, or diseases, may contribute to more advanced heart failure if not adequately treated or managed. The term heart failure simply refers to cardiac dysfunction and the constellation of symptoms that occur with it.

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath with little exertion
  • Feeling weak or tired after little activity or exertion
  • Difficulty sleeping due to breathing problems
  • A new or different cough, especially while lying flat
  • A swollen and/or tender abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination at night
  • Swelling of the feet and legs

Most common causes of heart failure:

  • Ischemic Cardiomyopathy (cardiomyopathy caused by heart attack)
  • Non-Ischemic Cardiomyopathy (cardiomyopathy caused by a condition other than a heart attack)
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome/Obesity
  • Atrial Fibrillation, Atrial Flutter, Tachycardia (abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia)
  • Alcohol Cardiomyopathy (over-use of alcohol)
  • Idiopathic cardiomyopathy (the cause is not known)
  • Inherited/Familial
  • Valvular Cardiomyopathy (Cardiomyopathy caused by heart valve problems such as Aortic Insufficiency, Mitral Regurgitation, Mitral Stenosis, or Tricuspid Valve Disease
  • Congenital Heart Defects (transposition of the great arteries, Tetralogy of Fallot, Septal Defects)
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
  • Right Side Heart Failure (can be caused by severe lung disease such as Pulmonary Hypertension or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD))
  • Myocarditis (infection of the heart muscle)

Less common causes of heart failure: