• Revision:Chronic heart failure

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Chronic Heart Failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood, and therefore enough oxygen, around the body. Because one of the main causes and effects is the build up of venous blood, tissue fluid and lymph fluid it is also known as congestive heart failure.

Chronic Heart Failure can affect either the left or right ventricle. In most sufferers it is a combination of both.


There are a variety of causes of CHF. Some are general causes which affect both the left and right ventricles, whereas others only affect one side:


  • Ischaemic Heart Disease (see separate notes)
  • Heartworm
  • Anaemia
  • Infections
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Genetics (certain individuals, usually with a family history of CHF, are predisposed to having a thinner cardiac wall, and are therefore more at risk)

Left Ventricle

  • Hypertension
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis (failure of the aortic valve to open)
  • Mitral valve Leaking

Right Ventricle

  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Pulmonary embolism

Risk Factors

The usual cardiovascular risk factors also increase the chances of CHF occurring, especially in those people who are genetically predisposed to CHF:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption
  • Stress
  • Old Age
  • Arterial Plaques


There are a wide variety of symptoms of CHF:

  • Shortness of breath (especially when lying down)
  • Night time cough
  • Sweating
  • Cold extremities (fingers and toes) due to poor circulation
  • Fluid Accumulation in lungs
  • Tissue fluid and Lymph accumulation
  • Reduction in water removal and salt removal in kidney (leading to hypertension)
  • Fatigue

The cough and shortness of breath can be mistaken for symptoms of asthma when no other symptoms are present.


See Also

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