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Causes of heart failure

In most cases, heart failure is caused by another heart problem.  Some of these problems damage the heart muscle, so the heart isn't able to pump as well as it should.  Other problems make the heart work harder, which can weaken the heart by tiring it out.

Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.  Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is caused by atherosclerosis (also called hardening of the arteries).  This condition occurs when plaque (deposits of fat, cholesterol and other materials) collects in the walls of the arteries.  As plaque builds up, the arteries narrow.  This reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. The heart muscle can't get enough oxygen-rich blood to work normally.  The muscle can weaken, and heart failure can't develop.

Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when CAD gets so bad that part or all of the coronary artery is blocked.  This stops blood flow to part of the heart muscle.  Without oxygen-rich blood, this part of the heart is permanently damaged.  The damaged portion of the heart muscle loses its ability to pump.  This means that after a heart attack, the rest of the heart muscle must work harder.  Over time, the strained heart muscle weakens.  Heart failure can develop.

High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure measures how hard blood pushes against the artery walls as it travels through the arteries.  High blood pressure (also called hypertension) occurs when blood pushes harder than normal.  This makes your heart work harder. Over time, the heart's chambers may enlarge.  If high blood pressure isn't controlled, the heart muscle eventually stretches and weakens.  This leads to heart failure.

Valve Disease
Valve disease occurs when the valves between the heart's chambers don't open or close properly.

Click here to learn about cardiac services at Baptist Health Corbin.