These conditions and risk factors raise your odds for developing heart failure.
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.
Dr. Goodman is board-certified in cardiology, internal medicine, lipidology, integrative medicine, and cardiac CT. He is the director of integrative medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center and a clinical professor of medicine at NYU.
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So the first thing we gotta realize
is when we talk about heart failure,
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it's a constellation of symptoms and
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It's not a diagnosis in itself.
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In other words, it's not complete.
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So there are many other
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And they're conditions
that cause heart failure.
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So, the most common ones
are high blood pressure.
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If your pressure's very high,
then the heart has to work harder, and
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eventually the heart can't keep up.
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And that's the beginnings
of heart failure.
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The next one is coronary artery disease.
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The heart has blood vessels that supply
the heart called the coronaries.
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If they are blocked and there's not enough
oxygen getting to the heart muscle,
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it's not gonna function properly.
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If it blocks completely a coronary artery,
we call it a heart attack.
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When you have a heart attack,
the muscle can die, and
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it could be a significant part of
the heart muscle, so you get a scar.
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The pump is damaged as it were.
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So that is something we always look for,
previous heart attack.
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Now the next cause is where there's
a problem where the muscle itself
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is diseased or has a problem,
a common cause.
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So we call that cardiomyopathy.
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So a viral infection can
cause a cardiomyopathy.
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Often it gets better over a few weeks or
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sometimes the heart never
recovers from a viral infection.
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It can be congenital.
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In other words,
a person can be born with a valve problem.
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It can be degenerative.
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As you get older,
the valve is not working properly.
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There's conditions like natural
regurgitation or aortic stenosis.
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The aortic valve calcifies so the blood
can't get out of the heart properly.
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And then infection of the heart valve,
we call that endocarditis.
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These are common causes of valve problems.
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We always look for that.
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And then many patients who we know
are presenting with early signs of heart
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failure, if we fix the valve problem,
we can completely reverse their problem.
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Chemotherapy can affect
the heart muscle directly, so
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we always are very careful with certain
chemo agents like adriamycin to check
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the heart muscle function, before and
during and after they get chemotherapy.
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And then there's conditions like alcohol
where people don't realize you drink a lot
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of alcohol excessively, you can damage and
poison your heart muscle.
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We call that alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
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So that's the idea when you come and
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see your doctor even if you
are not having symptoms.
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That's why checkup is so
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important because you may not know
you've got high blood pressure.
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You may not know that your arteries
are starting to block up and
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you may not know that you actually
have a degree of heart failure.
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Causes and risks for heart failure. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2017. (Accessed June 5, 2017 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/CausesAndRisksForHeartFailure/Causes-and-Risks-for-Heart-Failure_UCM_002046_Article.jsp#.WTXBWoWcH4i.)
Heart failure fact sheet. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. (Accessed June 2, 2017 at https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_failure.htm.)