About Heart Failure
Heart failure happens when the heart isn't able to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body effectively. As your heart works harder, it may become enlarged to keep up with the demand to pump more blood and pump faster — causing shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling, and other symptoms. NewYork-Presbyterian's heart specialists are experienced caring for people with all types and stages of heart failure.
Types of Heart Failure
Different types of heart failure develop in different parts of the heart.
- Left-sided heart failure. Heart failure most often starts in the left ventricle, the chamber of the heart that propels blood to the rest of the body.
- Right-sided heart failure. Left-sided heart failure often results in increased pressure in the right side of the heart, damaging it.
- Congestive heart failure. A life-threatening condition where the ventricles can't pump enough blood to the rest of the body, leading to fluid build-up in the abdomen, liver, lower body, and lungs.
What Causes Heart Failure?
Any condition that damages or weakens the heart can cause heart failure. Examples include cardiac amyloidosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, damaged heart valves, coronary artery disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, myocarditis, and pulmonary hypertension. Chronic diseases or conditions such as diabetes, HIV infection, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, and obesity may also raise the risk of heart failure, as well as alcohol abuse or tobacco use.
How to Prevent Heart Failure
You can reduce your risk of heart failure by taking care of other health problems (such as diabetes) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. NewYork-Presbyterian's heart failure specialists recommend:
- Regularly checking your blood pressure and taking hypertension medications as prescribed if you need them
- Avoiding smoking
- Controlling cholesterol
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Limiting alcohol intake