Close to 6 million U.S. adults are living with congestive heart failure. This condition happens when the heart muscle becomes weakened and can no longer pump adequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Because the blood is not being pumped into the aorta, blood pools in the heart.
Heart failure isn’t a standalone diagnosis; it’s usually associated with or caused by other related health problems. In many cases, treating the underlying causes of heart failure (whether, say, high blood pressure or smoking cigarettes) can help improve heart failure symptoms and prevent heart failure progression. Here are eight common risk factors of heart failure, according to cardiologist Dennis A. Goodman, MD.
High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure means the heart has to work harder, and when it can no longer keep up, the patient can develop heart failure.
Coronary artery disease (i.e. heart disease). Arteries that are clogged block adequate oxygen from reaching the heart, which also weakens heart function.
Heart attack. This happens when oxygen is blocked from the heart completely and causes part of the muscle to die. Heart attacks may leave scar tissue and damage the heart pump.
Cardiomyopathy. This is a problem with the heart muscle itself, often caused by a viral infection. The heart can recover from a viral infection, but in some cases, it never does.
Congenital or degenerative heart valve problems. The heart valve may be damaged upon birth (congenital) or become damaged during the aging process (degenerative).
Endocarditis, or infection of the heart valve. If any heart valve problems are detected early, doctors can fix the heart valve and potentially prevent heart failure from occurring.
Chemotherapy. This cancer treatment can cause heart failure. When chemotherapy is needed, doctors should test the patient’s heart function before, during, and after the treatments to catch any potential heart failure symptoms early.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This occurs when the heart is poisoned and damaged from excessive alcohol consumption.
Even if you’re not experiencing any heart failure symptoms, it’s important to keep up with regular doctor visits to detect any potential heart problems early. If your doctor notices any of the above eight conditions, you may be able to stop heart failure before it happens.