What are the Four Things That Can Lead to Heart Failure?

By Medical Expert Team

Apr 24 , 2023 | 4 min read

Congestive heart failure or heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump blood throughout the body. Therefore, the organs and muscles in the body do not receive sufficient nutrients and oxygen, resulting in fluid buildup, making a person feel tired and breathless.

This long-term condition occurs suddenly and requires instant treatment. Although severe, heart failure does not mean the heart stops working completely; it requires some support to work better. This condition can affect everyone but is more common among older people.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Heart failure symptoms include

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath while lying down or when doing different activities
  • Persistent wheezing or cough with pink or white blood-tinged mucus
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles and legs
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Reduced workout potential
  • Rapid weight gain due to fluid buildup
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Chest pain in case heart failure is the result of a heart attack
  • Reduced alertness or difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping on extra pillows
  • Protruding neck veins

Causes of Heart Failure

The causes of heart failure are as follows:

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

  • CAD, or coronary artery disease, is one of the most common causes of heart failure.
  • It occurs due to fatty and cholesterol deposits in the heart's arteries, obstructing blood flow to the heart muscles.
  • This buildup, known as atherosclerosis, can cause angina or chest pain leading to a heart attack when the coronary artery gets completely blocked.
  • Coronary artery disease may also cause high blood pressure, leading to heart failure.


Heart Attack

  • Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, is one of the most dangerous medical conditions.
  • It happens due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle because of blocked arteries.
  • If blood flow to the arteries is not restored instantly, a heart attack may cause permanent heart failure and even death.


The most common symptoms of a heart attack include the following:

  • Angina or chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stomach discomfort or nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety and feeling dizzy or lightheaded



  • Cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the heart muscle or myocardium.
  • It stiffens, thickens and enlarges the heart and can cause scar tissue. Hence, the heart cannot pump blood as it should to the rest of the body.
  • Cardiomyopathy symptoms include shortness of breath, heart palpitations and fatigue.
  • The most common types of cardiomyopathy include dilated, hypertrophic, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, restrictive, and transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy's best treatment is a heart transplant.


Conditions that overwork the heart

  • Medical conditions requiring the heart to pump harder than normal can also lead to heart failure over time.
  • Hypertension or uncontrolled high blood pressure is one condition where extreme pressure in the blood vessels does not let the heart pump blood.
  • Over time, the heart chambers become weaker and larger, resulting in the risk of heart failure.


Other conditions that can increase the heart's workload include:

  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart defects present at birth
  • Heart valve issues
  • Lung diseases and obesity leading to complete heart failure

Different Types of Heart Failure

Heart failure can happen either on the right or left side. In rare cases, both sides of the heart can fail at the same time.

Left-Sided Heart Failure

  • The left ventricle at the bottom left side of the heart pumps oxygen-laden blood to the rest of the body.
  • Left-sided heart failure happens when the left ventricle cannot pump blood efficiently.
  • Hence, blood backs up in the lungs and causes fluid buildup and shortness of breath.


Right-Sided Heart Failure

  • The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to collect oxygen, and right-sided heart failure occurs when it cannot do its job efficiently.
  • The condition is generally triggered by left-sided heart failure, where blood accumulation in the lungs overworks the right ventricle and causes it to fail.


Diastolic Heart Failure

  • When the heart muscle gets stiffer than normal because of heart disease, it causes diastolic heart failure.
  • The stiffness causes a lack of blood in the heart, called diastolic dysfunction.


Systolic Heart Failure

  • Heart contractions are critical to pump oxygen-rich blood to different body parts.
  • But with systolic heart failure, the heart muscle cannot contract as normal.
  • The condition is called systolic dysfunction and develops when the heart is enlarged or weak.

Risk Factors for Heart Failure

Risk factors for heart failure include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Valve disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Anaemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Emphysema


Some lifestyle habits that might increase the risk of heart failure:

  • Eating fatty and high-cholesterol foods
  • Smoking
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Not getting sufficient exercise

Diagnosis of Heart Failure

Diagnosis of heart failure includes:

  • Physical exam to check for the symptoms of heart failure.
  • Echocardiogram, or the use of sound waves to create detailed images of the heart that help doctors evaluate the extent of heart damage.
  • Other important tests to diagnose heart failure include chest x-ray, nuclear scan, heart MRI, catheterisation, Holter monitoring, stress exam and BNP blood test.

Heart Failure Treatment

Treatment for heart failure includes:

  • Medicines like beta-blockers, blood thinners and calcium channel blockers
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention to hold the artery open
  • Coronary bypass surgery allows blood to bypass damaged or blocked arteries
  • An implantable cardioverter defibrillator to restore the heart rate to normal
  • Pacemaker to increase or decrease the heart rate
  • Transplant surgery where a damaged heart is replaced with a donor's heart


Also Read About Best Heart Hospital in Mumbai

Prevention of Heart Failure

Some lifestyle changes can help prevent heart failure to a considerable extent. These include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Staying active
  • Controlling conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Having healthy foods

Complications of Heart Failure

Possible complications of heart failure are as follows:

  • Kidney failure or damage
  • Liver damage Heart rhythm issues
  • Heart valve issues



Heart failure requires ongoing treatment, so its complications do not affect an individual's health. If left untreated, heart failure can weaken the heart so severely that it can change into a life-threatening condition. Taking lifelong preventive measures is also critical for individuals who experience heart failure.

Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team

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