Congestive Heart Failure – Causes, Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure – Causes, Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Oct 01, 2020

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic heart condition that affects how the heart pumps blood. When you have CHF, you’ll notice shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue even when involved in less laborious tasks.

The most common conditions that contribute to CHF are narrowed arteries and hypertension. Both of these leave the heart weak and fatigued, and unable to perform its tasks properly. It’s advisable to constantly visit a walk-in-clinic for testing even if you don’t exhibit the specific symptoms.

Treatment and certain forms of medication can help reverse and minimize the symptoms of CHF and give you a longer life. Vital lifestyle changes such as exercising and consuming less sodium-rich diets, plus stress management and concentrating on weight loss can enhance the quality of your life. CHF is life-threatening. Visit our 24-hour emergency room if you notice its symptoms.

Common Types of CHF

Express ER Temple points out that there are two types of CHF, Right and Left-sided CHF.

Left-sided CHF is the most common type and occurs when you have complications with your left ventricle. It means your heart can’t pump blood effectively out of the body. With time, your lungs are filled with fluid, so you have difficulty in breathing. Left-sided heart failure is of two types, namely:

  • Systolic Heart Failure – It occurs when there are abnormal contractions in the left ventricle. The heart’s pumping force is therefore inadequate hence poor blood circulation.
  • Diastolic Failure – It also arises from left ventricle anomalies, when its muscles become stiff. Since the muscles find difficulty to relax, the heart doesn’t fill with blood in between pulses.

Right-sided CHF arises when the right ventricle can’t pump blood to the lungs. The result is a sluggishness of blood in your vessels hence fluid retention in the lungs and other vital organs, which can be fatal.

Is it possible to have both types simultaneously? Yes. CHF starts from the left side, then slowly travels to the right when medical attention is not sought.

Causes of CHF

CHF results from other complications that directly impact on your cardiovascular system. Annual checkups are, therefore, crucial to lowering the risks of such disorders.


High blood pressure is among the most common causes of heart failure. Hypertension is caused by several factors, mostly narrowing of arteries. This makes it harder for blood to flow through; hence pressure builds up. It, in turn, overworks the heart hence a congenital heart failure, if left untreated.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary arteries are the small arteries that supply the heart with blood. If you have high cholesterol levels, these arteries get blocked and with time become narrow. The narrower they are, the harder it is for blood to flow, and this can damage the arteries causing heart failure.

Valve Conditions

Valves are responsible for regulating how blood flows through the heart, by opening and closing to let blood in and out of the chambers. If there is an abnormality in how they open and close, ventricles end up being overworked as they struggle to pump blood. This can result in a heart defect, infection or CHF.

Other Conditions

While CHF is mostly caused by heart-related diseases, other unrelated conditions can lead to CHF as well. These conditions include diabetes, thyroid disease, viral infections like HIV, Tobacco use and obesity.


Earliest Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet and legs
  • Weight gain
  • Deep urge to urinate – especially at night

When the condition worsens

  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Wheezing
  • Coughs due to congested lungs
  • Breathlessness due to pulmonary edema

Severe Heart Condition

  • Chest pains radiating across the upper body
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue skin due to inadequate oxygen in the lungs
  • Fainting

If you experience chest pains that radiate to the upper body could easily be a heart attack sign. If you notice this symptom or suspect someone with the symptom, report immediately to the nearest emergency room near you.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A physical exam is administered first. The doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat for abnormal heart rhythms. Other diagnostic checks can also be administered to examine the valves, chambers and blood vessels.

Other tests used to conduct various forms of diagnosis include:

  • Electrocardiogram – to record the heart’s rhythm
  • Echocardiogram – Records the motion and structure of the heart
  • MRI – Takes pictures of the heart,
  • Stress Test, Blood tests and
  • Cardiac Catheterization – which displays coronary artery blockages


Various treatments are used depending on the overall patient’s health and how deep the condition has advanced.

Medications used to treat Congestive Heart Failures are as follows: ACE Inhibitors, Beta Blockers, Diuretics, and in the worst-case scenario, surgeries.

For surgeries, the Angioplasty procedure is used to clear blocked arteries. A valve repair surgery can also be performed to enable proper opening and closing of the valves.

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