Conditions that damage or overwork the heart muscle can cause heart failure. Over time, the heart weakens. It isn't able to fill with and/or pump blood as well as it should.
As the heart weakens, certain proteins and substances might be released into the blood. These substances have a toxic effect on the heart and blood flow, and they worsen heart failure.
CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.
Plaque narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. The buildup of plaque also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can weaken your heart and lead to plaque buildup.
Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure.) If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body's blood glucose (sugar) level is too high. The body normally breaks down food into glucose and then carries it to cells throughout the body. The cells use a hormone called insulin to turn the glucose into energy.
In diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use its insulin properly. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage and weaken the heart muscle and the blood vessels around the heart, leading to heart failure.
Other diseases and conditions also can lead to heart failure, such as:
Other factors also can injure the heart muscle and lead to heart failure. Examples include:
Heart damage from obstructive sleep apnea may worsen heart failure. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
Sleep apnea can deprive your heart of oxygen and increase its workload. Treating this sleep disorder might improve heart failure.
Interested in learning more about heart disease in women? View a Storify archive of a September 28, 2012, Twitter chat on women’s heart health. The discussion includes experts from The Heart Truth®, Million Hearts™, healthfinder.gov, and the American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart™
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Failure, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
September 3, 2013
Risk factors identified at diagnosis help predict outcomes for children with rare heart condition
A long-term study of children with a complex heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) found that risk factors identified at diagnosis help to predict outcomes for children with this rare condition.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
New NHLBI Program Trains Scientists to Bring More Science Out of the Lab and into the Patient Care Marketplace
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.