Definition, causes & symptoms

EARLY SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
OF HF CAN BE
DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY

What is heart failure?

Heart failure (HF) is a complex clinical syndrome caused by any cardiac structural and/or functional abnormality that results in impairment of ventricular filling or ejection of blood.1

Compensatory mechanisms to help the body maintain cardiac output can lead to further organ damage and have a fundamental role in the development and subsequent progression of heart failure.2

HF can present either acutely or as a progressive condition characterised by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, fatigue, fluid retention in the legs and/or abdomen, and/or reduced ability to exercise or perform physically demanding activities.3

Types of HF

Patients with HF experience decreased cardiac output.1,2

In diastolic HF, also referred to as HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), the heart cannot fill with enough blood.1,2

In systolic HF, also referred to as HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), the heart has a reduced ability to pump or eject blood.1,2

Two sub-types of HF

 

Causes & risk factors for HF

Conditions that can increase the likelihood of developing HF include:4

Diabetes

History of myocardial
infarction or coronary
artery disease

Hypertension

Being overweight

Congenital heart
defects

Atrial fibrillation

 

 

Patients with Type 2 diabetes have more than
double the risk of developing heart failure5

Symptoms of HF

Early signs and symptoms of HF can be difficult to recognise. Be sure to look for these signs and symptoms of HF:3,6,7

Dyspnea

Fatigue and Exercise Intolerance

Difficulty Breathing at Night

Dry Cough

Loss of Appetite

Edema/Fluid Retention (Sudden weight gain 2-3 lbs in 24 hours)7

Pulmonary Edema

Cardiac Murmur

Ascites

Swelling in Feet and Ankles

Dyspnea

Fatigue and Exercise Intolerance

Difficulty Breathing at Night

Dry Cough

Loss of Appetite

Edema/Fluid Retention (Sudden weight gain 2-3 lbs in 24 hours)7

Pulmonary Edema

Cardiac Murmur

Ascites

Swelling in Feet and Ankles

Learn more about diagnosing and managing patients with HF

LEARN MORE

References

  1. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;62(16):e147-e239.
  2. Bloom MW, Greenberg B, Jaarsma T, et al. Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017;3:17058.
  3. Ponikowski P, Voors AA, Anker SD, et al. 2016 ESC guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure: the Task Force for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC): developed with the special contribution of the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the ESC. Eur Heart J. 2016;37(27):2129-2200.
  4. American Heart Association. Causes of heart failure. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/causes-and-risks-for-heart-failure/causes-of-heart-failure. Accessed 6 August 2020.
  5. Kenny HC, Abel ED. Heart failure in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Circ Res. 2019;124(1):121-141.
  6. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart failure. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure. Accessed 8 August 2020.
  7. American Heart Association. Self-check plan for HF management. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/warning-signs-of-heart-failure. Accessed 8 August 2020.