Heart Failure 101

cardiogram Heart Conditions 101, Heart Failure

Heart failure describes the inability of the heart to pump blood into the major blood vessels. As a result, your organs will receive insufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients, causing a whole range of complications. 
A Bit About Heart Failure 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 6.2 million Americans are living with heart failure.1 This condition is generally the end-stage of most cardiovascular diseases, including chronic blood hypertension, arrhythmias, and coronary artery disease. 

There are several types of heart failure, which determine the nature of signs and symptoms you will experience.2 For instance, some people with heart failure have trouble pumping blood to peripheral organs, whereas others develop stiffness of the heart tissue. 

While preventing heart failure should be the goal, there is still a lot you can do to continue living a fulfilling life, even with a heart failure diagnosis. 

What Are the Types of Heart Failure? 
Left-sided heart failure 

Scientists divide the heart into two parts based on function – The left side and the right side.  

When the bottom left chamber of your heart (called the left ventricle) is no longer functioning properly, left-sided heart failure follows. 

Right-sided heart failure 

The right ventricle receives the deoxygenated blood (blood with low O2 concentrations) from the body and sends it to the lungs.  

Generally, right-sided heart failure is triggered by left-sided heart failure. Because the blood accumulates in your lungs, the right ventricle has to pump blood against major resistance. Eventually, the structure of the right ventricle changes, leading to heart failure. 

Diastolic heart failure 
Stiff cardiac tissues cannot expand easily. This type of heart failure is called diastolic because the heart fills with blood during diastole. 
Systolic heart failure 
When the heart can no longer contract properly, systolic heart failure ensues. 
High-output heart failure 
High-output heart failure is a relatively rare type of cardiac insufficiency. It results when the cardiac output (the amount of blood that your heart pumps in one minute) is higher than normal due to a drop in peripheral vascular resistance. In essence, this condition develops when your blood vessels expand too much. Thus, the heart has to work harder to maintain your blood pressure. 
Women in tanktop holding a drawing of a human heart
Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure 

Depending on the type of heart failure, the signs and symptoms may vary. However, the most common symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Sudden weight gain 
  • Anorexia (i.e., appetite suppression) 
  • Persistent coughing 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Abdominal swelling 
  • Dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath) 
  • Edema (i.e., swelling of the lower limbs) 
  • Protruding neck veins 

      Unfortunately, heart failure is a common complication of heart disease. Making lifestyle modifications and adopting a healthy way of eating are essential to ease your symptoms. 


      Treatment Options for Heart Failure 

      There has been a great deal of success and positive progression over the years regarding heart failure treatment, especially in its early stages. The long-term treatment goal in heart failure patients is to avoid the progression of the disease, and to reduce hospital readmission rates. 
      Typical heart failure treatment might include:3 
      • A recommended <2 grams of sodium per day 
      • High fiber, high vegetable diet 
      • Regular exercise, monitored through a cardiac rehabilitation program 
      • Cessation of smoking 
      • Alcohol consumption in moderation 
      • Medications 
      • Education regarding symptom management 
      • Weight monitoring 
        Heart Failure Prevention 

        By making heart healthy lifestyle choices and changes (which reduces heat failure risk factors) will help to prevent the disease. Some of these lifestyle choices include:2

        By leading a heart healthy life, you can prevent heart failure. And even with a diagnosis, you can still use these recommendations to continue leading a fulfilling life. 


          Cardiogram app shown on phone and smart watch


          Cardiogram app shown on phone and smart watch