Heart failure refers to the condition where the organ fails to pump enough blood to different parts of the body to meet the demand. The disease refers to the weak pumping power of heart. In this condition, the rate of flow of blood through the heart is slow and the pressure increases. In most cases, it affects both sides of the heart. But, there are cases in which it affects only one side of the organ. Heart failure is a very common condition that affects millions of people in the country, and is one of the most important causes for hospitalization in U.S.
Heart failure is caused by conditions that damage or weaken the muscles of the heart. This may result in the chambers becoming stiff and thickened.
The most common causes of heart failure include:
- Coronary artery disease – In this case, the arteries that supply muscles of the heart blood become narrow and thickened due to the accumulation of fatty deposits. Blood flow through the arteries is then slowed down which deprives the heart muscles of enough oxygen and nutrients.
- Heart attack – When the coronary artery is completely blocked, it may damage the heart muscles supplied by the artery.
- High blood pressure – When the pressure within the blood vessels is high, the heart will have to work hard to pump blood to different parts of the body. This may make the heart muscles thick, stiff and too weak to pump blood.
- Cardiomyopathy – This refers to the damage to the heart muscles caused by infection, problems in flow of the blood and alcohol abuse.
- Heart valve problems – Damage of the heart valve may cause the heart to overwork to pump blood effectively. This may gradually lead to weakening of the heart.
- Inflammation of heart muscles – Also known as myocarditis, this is one of the most common cause of left-side heart failure.
- Abnormal heart rhythms – This condition results in the rapid beating of the heart which gradually leads to weakening of heart.
- Certain diseases – A number of chronic conditions including diabetes, thyroid problems, emphysema, lupus, and severe anemia may all lead to heart failure. Severe infections, allergic reactions, and blood clots may also result in failure of the heart.
Some of the factors that increase the risk of heart failure include:
- Congenital defects in heart
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea
- Viral infections
- Kidney problems