Heart Failure

Causes

The causes and symptoms of diastolic and systolic heart failure are usually different. Heart failure can be caused by more than one condition. 

In diastolic heart failure, the walls of the heart have thickened, which makes it difficult for the heart to relax and fill with blood. The most common cause is chronic high blood pressure. 

In systolic heart failure, the heart is usually enlarged and has thinner walls. This results in weaker heartbeats, which reduce the amount of blood the heart pumps out to the rest of your body. Systolic heart failure often develops after you’ve had one or more heart attacks, or have a history of coronary artery disease. 

Other common causes include:  

  • Heart valve problems. Heart valves keep the blood flowing through your heart in the right direction. Stenosis (narrowing) of the heart valves can lead to a backup in the blood flow. Leaky heart valves may lead to fluid buildup that makes it harder for your heart to pump well. Both conditions can weaken your heart over time.   
  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats). When your heartbeat is irregular (too fast or too slow) it affects your heart’s ability to pump enough blood throughout your body.  
  • Myocarditis is inflammation (redness and swelling) of the heart muscle. Myocarditis due to an infection can cause heart failure. 
  • Sleep apnea occurs when tissues in your throat block your airway and cause pauses in your breathing. Sleep apnea is a risk factor for heart failure as well as other circulatory conditions, such as high blood pressure and stroke. Loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. 

Last Updated August 2020