Return to Index
Risk Factors for Heart Failure
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): Cholesterol and fat can build up in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. This build-up narrows the blood vessels, causing reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
- High Blood Pressure: Narrowing and hardening of the arteries reduces systemic blood flow and increases blood pressure.
- Severe lung conditions: Impaired lung function, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affect the body's ability to exchange oxygen efficiently. This puts extra strain on the heart to deliver blood and oxygen to the lungs.
- Valvular heart disease: The four valves of the heart keep blood flowing efficiently and in the correct direction. Damage or infection affecting the valves may cause leaking between heart chambers which affects heart efficiency.
- Cardiomyopathy: The heart muscle may become damaged due to infection, chronic alcohol abuse, certain chemotherapy drugs, cocaine, or scarring. The damage results in inadequate contraction of the heart muscle.
- Heart arrhythmias: Are abnormal heart rhythms. If the heart beats too slowly it cannot adequately pump blood through the body. If it beats too quickly, it may not allow the heart to fill with the adequate amount of blood the body needs between heart beats.
- Congenital heart defects: Birth defects of the heart muscle or valves.
- Diabetes: People who have diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease. They often have other conditions that increase their risk of heart disease, like high cholesterol and increased weight.
- Metabolic syndrome: This condition is marked by elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight. Excess weight centered around the midsection is of particular concern.
- Obesity: Extra body weight causes the heart to work harder in order to circulate blood and nutrients throughout the body. Obesity is also linked to other heart-related risk factors, such as high blood pressure and sleep apnea .
- Hyperthyroidism: This condition, caused by an overactive thyroid gland, increases the metabolic rate in the body. The increased levels of thyroid hormone signal the heart to pump faster and harder to supply the body with blood, causing strain.
- Anemia: Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. When the number of red blood cells is reduced, the heart must circulate blood more frequently to supply enough oxygen to the tissues.
- Kidney disorders: Impaired kidney function elevates blood pressure.
- Depression: It is not known how depression and heart failure are linked, but depression does affect overall mental and physical well being. Fatigue or disinterest can lead you to make poor decisions about your health, such as ignoring treatment plans that reduce your risk of heart diseases.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Long-term use of anabolic steroids
African-Americans and heart disease, stroke. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/African-Americans-and-Heart-Disease-Stroke%5FUCM%5F444863%5FArticle.jsp. Updated April 15, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2013.
Depression and heart disease. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-heart-disease/depression-and-heart-disease.pdf. Updated 2011. Accessed October 7, 2013.
Felker CM, Thompson RE, et al. Underlying causes and long-term survival in patients with initially unexplained cardiomyopathy. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1077.
He, J, Ogden, LG, et al. Risk factors for congestive heart failure in US men and women: NHANES I epidemiologic follow-up study. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:996.
Heart failure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 7, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2013.
Understanding your risk for heart failure. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/UnderstandYourRiskforHeartFailure/Understand-Your-Risk-for-Heart-Failure%5FUCM%5F002046%5FArticle.jsp. Updated September 20, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2013.
Who is at risk for heart failure? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hf/atrisk.html. Updated January 9, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/17/2014