Congestive Heart Failure

What Conditions Can Lead to Heart Failure?


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Summary & Participants

Heart failure affects approximately 5 million people in the United States. It can be caused by a number of conditions and treatment options may vary depending on the cause.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript


ANNOUNCER: Heart failure affects approximately five million people in the United States. It can be caused by a number of conditions and treatment options may vary depending on the cause

MANDEEP R. MEHRA, MBBS, FACC: The two most common conditions that lead to heart failure in the United States, and perhaps worldwide, are high blood pressure and the development of coronary artery disease. Thus almost any risk factor that is associated with the development of coronary artery disease will also typically be a risk factor for the development of heart failure. For example, smoking, poor lifestyle, diabetes, obesity. Even a family history of heart disease is a very, very important risk marker or a risk factor for the future development of heart failure.

ERIC L. MICHELSON, MD, FACC: Patients who had previous heart attacks due to blockage of coronary arteries is another very common reason.

There are a number of other causes, all with relatively small proportions of patients having those conditions, and many of these we sort of lump together and call idiopathic, because by the time the patient gets to us, we're not quite sure which one of these may have been the specific cause.

JACQUELINE A. NOONAN, MD, FACC: It's possible to develop heart failure from severe anemia, because your heart has to beat so hard and to try to make up for the low hemoglobin in your blood.

You can have heart failure if you're born with heart disease. Children with large holes in their heart can develop heart failure.

Then there are things that can happen. You had a normal heart, but then you got an infection. You got what's called myocarditis. That could cause heart failure.

You could be born with a tendency to develop what we call a cardiomyopathy and, again, that might not show up. Might show up when you're a child, but sometimes it doesn't show up until you're an adult.

So there are many, many causes of cardiac failure. And it's important to find out what the cause is because the treatment may differ, depending on the cause.