12 Causes of Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure refers to a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s metabolic needs.  It is often referred to as congestive heart failure, or CHF.  Heart failure is a common clinical syndrome characterized by shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling (edema) in the legs, ankles, and feet.  It can be left-sided (most commonly) or right-sided.  Left-sided heart failure can be the result of systolic (heart contraction) or diastolic (heart relaxation) dysfunction.  Heart failure is a chronic condition characterized by acute exacerbations, or periods of abrupt worsening of symptoms.  

Twelve causes of heart failure include…

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1. Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is characterized by the accumulation of fatty plaques in the walls of heart arteries.  It is often simply referred to as heart disease. Cardiac ischemia develops when a fatty plaque blocks the blood flow to heart muscle.  If ischemia lasts long enough, the death of heart muscle ensues, which is referred to as a heart attack (myocardial infarction).  An individual experiencing a heart attack may or may not have chest pain, or angina.

A heart attack results in a scarred area that does not function properly.  There is no single diagnostic test for CAD, which is the leading cause of death in the US in both men and women.  Risk factors for the development of CAD include high blood cholesterol (especially LDL or “bad” cholesterol), high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, being overweight or obese, and a family history of heart disease.

Heart Disease

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