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Causes of Heart Failure

For heart failure to occur, there must be an unresolved impairment of the heart that compromises its ability to work as a pump. The source of this can be a cutoff of blood supply, an increase in workload due to high blood pressure caused by non-functioning valves or a genetic predisposition. Heart failure can be worsened by a poor diet and lifestyle. Its development follows the scheme below:


Conditions That May Lead To Heart Failure

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

This is the most common cause of heart failure in the U.S. today. CAD causing obstruction to the coronary arteries prevents blood flow and, therefore, oxygen delivery to the heart. CAD is a manifestation of atherosclerosis, which can affect any artery of the body. Risk factors for CAD also include smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes.


This is more commonly known as high blood pressure. It is a condition that is treatable and simple to diagnose with a blood pressure cuff. Although most individuals will not have symptoms, hypertension is detected by a simple measurement with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. It is also a risk factor for CAD, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, or kidney impairment.

Valvular Heart Disease

A condition that occurs when the valves between the chambers of the heart are faulty, either due to birth defect or injury.


A disease of the heart muscle. This can be one of many varieties. It can arise because of genetic causes, a viral infection, or consumption of toxins (lead, alcohol, etc.). In peripartum cardiomyopathy, women who have recently given birth can develop heart muscle impairment. In many cases, the condition is called “idiopathic”, which means it has occurred of uncertain origin or cause.

In addition to those causes above, the following factors also can play a role in determining if heart failure will affect you:

  • family history of heart failure
  • diabetes
  • marked obesity
  • heavy consumption of alcohol, or drug abuse
  • failure to take medications
  • large salt intake in diet
  • sustained rapid heart rhythms

Many other conditions can actually simulate heart failure symptoms – it is important to seek evaluation from a medical professional for a definitive diagnosis. Some of these are:

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