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7 Causes of Heart Failure You May Not Have Known About

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Heart failure is a common condition in the United States, affecting around 6.2 million American adults yearly.

Too many people don’t know the signs of heart failure, or the things that can cause it. Do you know the common causes of heart failure? Are you at risk?

We should all be concerned about our cardiovascular health. Maintaining a healthy heart with a good diet and exercise routine is the best way to ensure longevity and good health even in old age.

There are some heart failure causes, however, that we have little control over.

Heart failure

If you’re worried about the potential for heart failure for you or a loved one, you’re in the right place. We’re here to help educate you.

Keep reading to learn more about what can cause heart failure.

1. Arrhythmia 

While not likely in most cases, an arrhythmia is one of the possible causes of heart failure. This means that the heart is beating too fast or too slow for a brief period of time.

Arrhythmias are common, but serious arrhythmias can be dangerous.

Premature atrial or ventricular contractions are common types of arrhythmias that don’t often cause any problems. They’re what many people refer to as “heart flutters” and they present as a premature heartbeat.

Atrial or ventricular fibrillation are the common forms of more dangerous kinds of arrhythmias that are more likely to cause heart problems, including heart failure. When the heart beats too fast, it has to work too hard. When it beats too slow, it can’t pump enough blood to the body.

These are fast and irregular heart rhythms. They’re manageable with lifestyle changes and medication, but that doesn’t mean that they’re risk-free. Arrhythmias can form from genetic conditions, meaning that they may not be preventable.

2. Myocarditis

When the heart muscle becomes irritated and inflamed, it’s referred to as myocarditis. Myocarditis is often caused by one of many kinds of viruses that, when left untreated, make their way to the heart.

Some of these viruses are common and include parvovirus, herpes, COVID-19, and hepatitis.

This means that these viruses and the resulting heart failure can affect children as well as adults. We don’t often consider children at risk for heart failure and worry more for our elderly loved ones.

Myocarditis does not discriminate.

3. Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are heart abnormalities that form in the womb. This means that there’s nothing that you (as the person with the defect) can do to prevent them.

Certain chronic health conditions, medications, and viruses in the person carrying the child can increase the risk of congenital heart defects.

These defects are treated with medications, catheters, or surgeries. Sometimes they require a combination of the three.

If left untreated, or if treated improperly, the congenital heart defect can lead to heart failure.

Adults with congenital heart defects should be in contact with professionals in cardiovascular health such as Moderna’s Kenneth Chien.

4. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for heart failure. Those with diabetes are up to four times as likely to encounter heart failure at some time in their life.

The insulin resistance inherent to type 2 diabetes (as well as the poor health that contributed to the condition in the first place) creates a greater chance of heart failure.

This also works in the reverse. Those who experience heart failure are more likely to also experience type 2 diabetes. This cycle is problematic. Diabetes, when managed well, can go into remission. This same management can help prevent heart failure.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine as well as following a doctor’s suggestions for management are key for avoiding heart failure and increasing the chances of remission.

5. Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy can have no symptoms in its early stages, making it difficult to diagnose until it becomes a problem and a major risk factor for heart failure.

It’s a disease that damages the heart muscle and it can step from several causes and risk factors including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, past use of chemotherapy, vitamin deficiencies, and use of certain stimulant drugs or medications.

It’s unpreventable in most cases, but should be treated as soon as it’s noticed to avoid complications (such as heart failure).

6. Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is often unnoticed until the resulting heart attack happens. It’s what we generally think of when we’re thinking about heart attack risk factors.

When the arteries become clogged with fatty deposits and cholesterol, blood has a harder time flowing to the heart. This is what causes a heart attack, but it can also cause complete heart failure.

It can be treated with changes to lifestyle and diet but it can’t be cured. It sometimes requires surgery.

7. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)   

High blood pressure is a common condition and often has no major complications once it’s managed through lifestyle changes. These include stress management, a healthy amount of exercise, and changes in diet. It can also require several medications to keep it under control.

Risk factors for hypotension include obesity, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and even pregnancy. It’s more prevalent in men and post-menopausal women and anyone over 60 years of age.

When it’s not managed, or patients choose to ignore the suggestions of doctors, it can lead to severe complications. Long-term hypertension can lead to similar issues as coronary artery disease, where the arteries become clogged so that blood can’t get to the heart. This can cause the heart to fail.

Did You Know These Heart Failure Causes? 

There are many potential causes of heart failure. Some of them are preventable, but many are not. Everyone should be aware of their cardiovascular health so that any heart failure causes can be caught and managed before they become problematic.

Heart failure doesn’t have to be fatal, but it’s better if it’s avoided altogether.

For more health and fitness resources, be sure to check out the rest of the articles on our site.

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