MRCP, MD, PhD
Heart failure can occur in either the left or right side of your heart. It’s also possible for both sides of your heart to fail at the same time.
Heart failure is also classified as either diastolic or systolic.
Left-sided heart failure is the most common type of heart failure.
The left heart ventricle is located in the bottom left side of your heart. This area pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.
Left-sided heart failure occurs when the left ventricle doesn’t pump efficiently. This prevents your body from getting enough oxygen-rich blood. The blood backs up into your lungs instead, which causes shortness of breath and a buildup of fluid.
The right heart ventricle is responsible for pumping blood to your lungs to collect oxygen. Right-sided heart failure occurs when the right side of your heart can’t perform its job effectively. It’s usually triggered by left-sided heart failure. The accumulation of blood in the lungs caused by left-sided heart failure makes the right ventricle work harder. This can stress the right side of the heart and cause it to fail.
Right-sided heart failure can also occur as a result of other conditions, such as lung disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, right-sided heart failure is marked by swelling of the lower extremities. This swelling is caused by fluid backup in the legs, feet, and abdomen.
Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes stiffer than normal. The stiffness, which is usually due to heart disease, means that your heart doesn’t fill with blood easily. This is known as diastolic dysfunction. It leads to a lack of blood flow to the rest of the organs in your body.
Diastolic heart failure is more common in women than in men.
Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle loses its ability to contract. The contractions of the heart are necessary to pump oxygen-rich blood out to the body. This problem is known as systolic dysfunction, and it usually develops when your heart is weak and enlarged.
Systolic heart failure is more common in men than in women.
Both diastolic and systolic heart failure can occur on the left or right sides of the heart. You may have either condition on both sides of the heart.
Heart failure is most often related to another disease or illness. The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), a disorder that causes narrowing of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Other conditions that may increase your risk for developing heart failure include: