Heart failure ? It doesn’t mean your heart is about to stop!

What is heart failure? It does not mean your heart is about to stop. Heart failure, is an unfortunate phrase which describes a set of conditions. The Pumping Marvellous Foundation like to call heart failure “heart inefficiency” or just HF. However you describe it it means that your heart is not working properly. The reasons for heart failure can be caused by many different conditions the reality is that they all affect your hearts ability to pump nutrient rich oxygenated blood around the body.

Common symptoms include

  • Fluid retention – swelling of the ankles and or legs and the tummy
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Breathlessness – especially when lying flat, like in bed

Other symptoms can include

  • A persistent cough
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • High heart rate

It is important to point out that each of these symptoms is not unique to heart failure and can be caused by other conditions e.g. COPD, however if you have a combination of the common symptoms we would suggest you go to your GP to point these out.

At the side you can see a list of conditions which can cause heart failure.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

A heart attack is when the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become blocked, as a result of a clot forming in the artery. Read more 

Hypertension (High blood pressure)

Hypertension is another word for high blood pressure and doesn’t usually present any noticeable systems. Persistent undiagnosed and untreated hypertension can lead to damage to the heart. Read more

Heart valves

There are 4 valves in your heart, pulmonary, tricuspid, aortic and mitral. They act as gates to the four different chambers of your heart ensuring the blood flows in the right direction. They can become damaged or diseased meaning they do not open and close as they should. They may become stretched and leak blood backwards, or stiff so that they do not open or close.


Cardiomyopathy is a condition of the heart muscle where the walls of the heart can either become stiff, stretched or thickened thus reducing the ability of the heart to pump effectively. You may have heard of dilated cardiomyopathy or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy however there are many types of cardiomyopathy. Read more

Abornormal heart rhythm

The heart works on its own electric system, it triggers the heart to pump. It provides the heart with a rhythm as blood flows from one chamber to another. When things go wrong with the rhythm of your heart we call it an arrhythmia. You may feel if you heart is experiencing an arrhythmia, by feeling your heart pounding in the centre of your chest called a palpitation. Having an arrhythmai problem maybe why your heart is not working efficeiently.   Read more 


Peripartum cardiomyopathy commonly known as PPCM is a form of heart failure that can happen during childbirth or after giving birth. It is a rare condition but can be very traumatic for those affected. Read our mini toolkits on PPCM in our academy.

Overactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is when there is too much of the thyroid hormone in the body and if left untreated can cause heart failure. Read more


Excessive prolonged consumption of alcohol can lead to alcohol induced cardiomyopathy.

Virus or infection

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and is usually caused by a viral infection and can lead to heart failure.

Cancer medication

Certain cancer medications for some individuals, can lead to heart failure.

Recreational drugs

Recreational drugs can cause heart failure

Congenital Heart Disease

A problem in the structure of the heart that is present at birth.