Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen. According to the American Heart Association more than 5 million people in the U.S. are currently living with some form of heart failure. It is also the most common reason for older adults to go to the hospital. Check out our infographic to learn more about this disease:

Heart Failure Infographic

Types of Heart Failure

Left-sided heart failure occurs when the left side of the heart must work harder to pump the necessary amount of blood.

  • Systolic failure is when the heart does not provide enough force to push enough blood into circulation.
  • Diastolic failure is when the heart can’t fill properly with the necessary amount of blood in between beats.

Right-sided heart failure happens when the right ventricle can’t pump blood out of the heart efficiently. As a result, the blood backs up in the veins and that can cause swelling or congestion in the legs, ankles or abdomen.

Congestive heart failure requires medical attention. Blood flow slows, and blood returning to the heart backs up, causing congestion. Swelling is common.

» Learn more about the difference between left and right-sided heart failure.

Conditions That Can Lead to Heart Failure

Some of the most common causes include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Past heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Heart muscle disease or inflammation
  • Heart defects present at birth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • Severe lung disease
  • Diabetes

Common Symptoms of Heart Failure

  • Irregular or rapid heart beat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough or wheezing (possibly accompanied by white or blood-tingled phlegm)
  • Increased or decreased urination
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Swelling (edema) of the ankles and feet

Ready to learn more about your risk factors for heart failure? Start by attending a free heart screening.

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About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.