Congestive heart failure develops when the heart has weakened and cannot function as it should. This condition prevents the heart from pumping blood properly or gathering enough blood to maintain proper blood flow. Congestive heart failure is chronic and usually worsens over time, but progression can be slowed and managed through certain medications and lifestyle changes.
There are some non-heart-related conditions that can weaken the heart, including chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, and others. However, congestive heart failure can occur because of other heart complications, including:
Patients with a history of heart disease and heart attacks are more likely to develop congestive heart failure.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease develops when a buildup of fatty deposits along the artery walls restricts blood flow. This condition is the most common trigger for heart attacks, the most common type of heart disease, and the most common cause of congestive heart failure in patients.
Heart attacks occur when the fatty deposits in the arteries cause complete blockage and prevent blood from reaching the heart. When the heart loses blood, it experiences lasting damage and cannot pump as strongly as before. A patient with a weakened heart is likely to develop congestive heart failure.
Some heart complications can lead to congestive heart failure, including:
Congenital Heart Issues
Some patients are born with heart defects, usually due to underdevelopment. In many cases, the valves, vessels, or chambers do not form properly in the womb and can force the heart to work extra hard to maintain function. The combination of an overworked heart and faulty components can lead to congestive heart failure.
Malfunctioning Heart Valves
While healthy heart valves keep blood flowing in the right direction, an unhealthy heart valve may not do its job as well, forcing the heart to work overtime to keep blood moving correctly. This wears the heart out faster, paving the way toward congestive heart failure.
Faulty heart valves can occur because of:
- Birth defects
- Coronary artery disease
Heart damage is more than natural wear and tear as the body ages. Heart damage can develop because of:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Heavy drug use
- Heavy treatments or medications (i.e., chemotherapy)
Some hearts have abnormal rhythms. In certain cases, the heart beats too quickly, even while you are resting. As the heart maintains the fast-paced rhythm, it wears down faster and can lead to congestive heart failure.
In other cases, the heart can beat too slowly and lessen blood flow. This, too, can ultimately cause congestive heart failure.
Myocarditis, or heart inflammation, is a rare reaction to certain infections, viruses, or bodily intruders, like:
- Common colds
When the heart muscle becomes inflamed, its regular operation is altered and can cause congestive heart failure.