Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body system. It could be due to weakness of the heart muscle such that it cannot contract forcefully. It could also be due to stiffness of the heart muscle, such that it cannot expand enough to get blood into itself. If it cannot get blood into itself, there is no blood to pump out to the body.
Causes of Heart Failure
Heart failure can be caused by many medical conditions that damage the heart muscle. Some of these conditions are:
- Coronary Artery Disease. This occurs when there is atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles). This partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscles, causing a heart attack. This leads to death and the weakening of the heart muscle, causing heart failure.
- Cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy means enlargement or stiffening of the heart muscle which is not due to problems relating to blood flow to the heart muscle. It occurs due to various causes such as viruses, smoking, alcohol, and pregnancy. Because the heart expands or stiffens, there is a reduction in the amount of blood that can be pumped into the body system.
- Heart defects at birth (congenital heart disease): Many heart diseases develop from birth, which may be due to chromosomal abnormalities or drugs the mother took while pregnant. Some of these conditions can cause heart failure especially when there is shunting of blood from the left side of the heart to the right side. Examples of these include a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), and a Patent Ductus Ateriosus (PDA).
- High Blood Pressure (hypertension). If you have high blood pressure, it means the pressure within your arteries is higher than normal. This also means that your heart has to pump with more force so that it can overcome the resisting pressure of your arteries. This can cause the heart muscle to thicken, causing heart failure.
- Arrhythmia. These are abnormal heart rhythms that make it difficult for the heart to pump well. These include atrial fibrillation, ventricular fibrillation, and so on.
Other causes of heart failure include diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, smoking, illicit drug use, and chemotherapy.