Heart Failure and its types


Heart failure or cardiac failure is the condition in which the heart looses the ability to pump sufficient amount of blood to all parts of the body. Heart failure may involve left ventricle or right ventricle or both. It may be acute or chronic.

Acute Heart Failure

Acute heart failure refers to sudden and rapid onset of signs and symptoms of abnormal heart functions. Its symptoms are severe initially. However, the symptoms last for a very short time and the condition improves rapidly. Usually it requires treatment.

Heart Failure and its types

Chronic Heart Failure

Chronic heart failure is the heart failure that is characterized by the symptoms that appear slowly over a

period of time and become worst gradually.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a general term used to describe the heart failure resulting in accumulation of

fluid in lungs and other tissues. When heart is not able to a blood through aorta, the blood remains in heart. It results in dilatation of the chambers and accumulation of blood in veins (vascular congestion). Fluid retention and pulmonary edema also occur in this condition.


Common causes of heart failure are:

1. Coronary artery disease

2. Defective heart valves

3. Arrhythmia

4. Cardiac muscle disease such as cardiomyopathy

5. Hypertension

6. Congenital heart disease

7. Diabetes

8. Hyperthyroidism

9. Anemia

10. Lung disorders

11. Inflammation of cardiac muscle (myocarditis) due to viral infection, drugs, alcohol, etc.


Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Heart Failure

1. Fatigue and weakness

2. Rapid and irregular heartbeat

3. Shortness of breathing

4. Fluid retention and weight gain

5. Loss of appetite

6. Nausea and vomiting

7. Cough

8. Chest pain, if developed by myocardial infarction.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Heart Failure

Signs and symptoms of acute heart failure may be same as chronic heart failure. But the signs and

symptoms appear suddenly and severely. When heart starts to fail suddenly, the fluid accumulates in lungs causing pulmonary edema. It results in sudden and severe shortness of breath, cough with pink, foamy mucus and heart palpitations. It may lead to sudden death, if not attended immediately.


1. Systolic Heart Failure

Systolic heart failure is the heart failure due to the decreased ability of heart to contract. It may involve

right heart or left heart or both. It is caused either by muscular weakness or valvular defect. Ventricles may be filled with blood but cannot pump it out with sufficient force. Ejection fraction decreases to about 20%. So the amount of blood pumped to the body and to the lungs is decreased. As a result, more amount of blood remains in ventricle. Later the blood starts accumulating in lungs or systemic veins or both. Usually the ventricle enlarges in systolic heart failure.

2. Diastolic Heart Failure

Diastolic heart failure is the heart failure that occurs when the ventricles cannot relax properly due to the

stiffening of cardiac muscle. So, there is reduction in ventricular filling and cardiac output.

3. Right Sided Heart Failure

Right sided heart failure occurs due to loss of pumping action of the right side of the heart. Because of loss of pumping action of right ventricle, blood accumulates in right atrium and blood vessels. It causes edema in the feet, ankles, legs and abdomen.

4. Left Sided Heart Failure

Left sided heart failure is due to the loss of pumping action of the left side of the heart. It causes congestion of lungs.



Chronic heart failure may be compensated or decompensated.

Compensated Heart Failure

Compensated heart failure is the heart failure with adequate cardiac output. Heart tries to maintain cardiac output by normal compensatory mechanisms such as increase in heart rate, increase in force of ventricular contraction and ventricular hypertrophy. In compensated heart failure, the symptoms are stable and features of fluid retention and pulmonary edema are absent. Eventually, in most of the patients the heart can no longer meet the demand even by compensatory mechanisms and this condition leads to decompensated heart failure.

Decompensated Heart Failure

Decompensated heart failure is the heart failure with inadequate cardiac output. It is characterized by

deterioration and sudden and drastic worsening of cardiac function, resulting in death. 

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