Heart services

Causes of heart failure

What are the causes and symptoms of heart failure?

Causes

Causes of heart failure can include:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Having had a heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI)
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Heart disease you are born with
  • Toxicity from chemotherapy or substance abuse
  • Hypothyroid
  • Valve disease
  • Heart arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation, afib)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Other factors that may affect the heart include smoking, hyperlipidemia (too many lipids – or fats – in the blood), sleep apnea, sedentary lifestyle, and stress management.

Symptoms

The first step in treating heart failure is to know the symptoms so they can be treated quickly. Common symptoms include: 
  • Being short of breath
  • Rapid weight gain – 2-3 lbs. in 1 to 2 days
  • Ankle swelling
  • Unable to walk or do activity like you use to do
  • Unable to lay flat (sleeping in the chair)
  • Cough
  • Having trouble thinking or being sleepy
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling weak
  • Having chest pain or tightness
  • Feeling your heartbeat fast
  • Having abdominal swelling or feeling sick to your stomach 
If you have heart failure or experience any of the above problems, call your doctor. Waiting makes it harder to stop the problem and could lead to a hospital stay. A doctor needs to decide if symptoms can be treated at home, in the clinic office, or in the hospital. No one likes to go to the hospital but waiting often will make symptoms harder to treat.

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