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Congestive Heart Failure Causes and Risk Factors

Congestive Heart Failure Causes and Risk Factors
Congestive Heart Failure
Causes and Risk Factors

What causes congestive heart failure?
Various conditions can undermine heart function or worse, cause injury to the heart components themselves. The end result under all the conditions is a heart that can no longer perform its duty of pumping blood properly to the rest of the body. Some conditions can go undetected, increasing the risk for CHF. The conditions include:

Abnormal heart rhythm - The heart beats too fast, or too slow (Arrhythmia). The heart muscle becomes overly strained or weakened, leading to failure.

Coronary artery disease or heart attack – During this type of disease, blood flow is impeded by a plaque buildup of fatty deposits on arterial walls, depriving the heart of blood (Atherosclerosis), weakening it. If this plaque causes the artery to rupture, heart attack occurs.

Heart muscle damage - In this category, there are many contributing factors that can result in damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) such as chemotherapy, drug/alcohol abuse, thyroid problems, infections, or even diseases like Lupus that affect the entire body. Undiagnosed causes are also possible.

Faulty heart valves – This occurs when one or more of the four valves sustains damage; the others must then work even harder to keep blood flowing properly. Eventually, the heart can weaken. Early detection can correct valve problems.

Birth defects - When someone is born with malformed valves or ventricles, the normal components of the heart have to compensate, bearing additional strain. Genetic (Congenital) defects such as Tetralogy of Falot, septum defects or Down syndrome can increase the risk of heart disease leading to CHF.

High blood pressure - HBP (Hypertension) restricts blood flow through the body, as more force is needed to push it along. Therefore the heart must pump harder to overcome the pressure in the arteries. To do this, the heart increases its muscle mass like a bodybuilder, resulting in an enlarged heart, and eventual weakening or rigidity.

Inflammation - Viruses can cause the heart muscle to become inflamed (myocarditis). Heart failure of the left-sided type is a common result.

Other diseases - Sudden (acute) heart failure can result from allergic reactions, certain medications, clotting of blood in the lungs, and many illnesses that attack the body as a whole. Chronic conditions can also induce failure. These include hypo/hyperthyroidism, anemia, diabetes, emphysema, hemochromatosis, amyloidosis, and lupus.

Risk factors
There are certain risk factors that make it more likely that a person develops congestive heart failure, especially age. Heart failure can be brought on by a solitary factor, and additional factors combined further increase the risk. The most common are:

Age - People 40 and older have a 1 in 5 chance of developing CHF. Older people are affected more often, due to incidents of disease or age-related conditions that lead to weakening of the heart.

Alcohol abuse – Overuse of alcohol causes weakening in the muscle tissue, which can cause eventual heart failure.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) – CAD partially blocked arteries keep the heart from getting the oxygen-rich blood necessary to maintain its strength.

Congenital defects - Abnormal conditions affecting heart structure from birth, such as a deformed valve, or defects of the inner wall of the heart chambers (the septum) put people more at risk of developing CHF later in life.

Diabetes – Diabetes can increase the chances of getting coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

Heart attack - Muscle damage often results from this type of event, affecting heart function and increasing risk of CHF.

High blood pressure - The heart works much harder than it should to distribute blood through the system and increases risk of heart failure.

Irregular heartbeat - Again, the heart is laboring under stress to pump efficiently, perhaps even weakening with time.

Kidney problems - These can cause retention of fluids, and high blood pressure, both harmful to the heart.

Medications – Diabetes drugs can increase ones’ risk for heart failure. Sometimes, an adjustment of dosage is enough to avoid problems.

Sleep apnea - Abnormal heart rhythms and low levels of oxygen in the blood can occur, as this condition causes the sleeping person to breathe improperly.

Viruses - Muscle tissue can be injured by viral infections.

The war on heart disease is more effective than it has ever been. But as people live longer, they should also be more vigilant over their bodies, especially where the heart is concerned. What are the signs to look for? How do we identify possible heart failure? The next section on symptoms of congestive heart failure outlines what to look for here.

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Tags: Congestive Heart Failure, abnormal heart rhythms, abnormal heart rhythm, faulty heart valves, heart failure, Heart Disease, heart valves, Heart Attack, heart muscle, heart rhythm, heart, High Blood Pressure, irregular heartbeat, thyroid problems, hyperthyroidism, early detection, Atherosclerosis, Down syndrome, Chemotherapy, hypertension
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