It isn’t uncommon for people to not really understand what heart failure is and it is so commonly confused with heart attacks when in fact, they are two very different things. Heart failure is a long-term condition that unfortunately can get worse over time. Currently, it is treatable and many people go on to have a good quality of life with treatment and lifestyle changes.
To put things simply, heart failure means that your heart is not pumping blood around your body as effectively as it should. However, it is important to know that having heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped working, it just means that your heart will need some support to work better. There are a few different types of heart failure and Pumping Marvellous have put together an easy to understand guide to these for anyone that is looking to learn more about this condition.
Left-sided heart failure
This is the most common type of heart failure. The left side of your heart is the side that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. When you have left-sided heart failure, the left ventricle in your heart doesn’t pump effectively which in turn prevents your body from getting enough of the oxygen-rich blood it needs.
Failure of the left side of the heart causes a build-up of blood in the blood vessels that carry blood away from the lungs (pulmonary veins). This will cause shortness of breath, trouble breathing and/or coughing, especially during physical activity. It will also cause fatigue due to the insufficient supply of oxygenated blood.
Right-sided heart failure
The right side of your heart is responsible for pumping blood to your lungs where it will collect the oxygen to then pass around your body. When you have right-sided heart failure, the right ventricle in your heart is too weak to pump enough blood to the lungs.
This type of heart failure will cause blood to build up in the blood vessels that carry blood from the organs and tissue back to the heart. This will cause increased pressure inside the veins and can push fluid out of the veins into the surrounding tissue. Right-sided heart failure will lead to a build-up of fluid which is marked by swelling in the legs, feet and abdomen.
Biventricular heart failure
In biventricular heart failure, both sides of the heart are affected. It isn’t uncommon that over time, if someone is living with right-sided or left-sided heart failure, for their condition to progress to the failure of both ventricles. Failure of either side of the heart, as expected, will place pressure on the opposite side which over many years can cause the other ventricle to fail.
This can cause the same symptoms as both left-sided and right-sided heart failure, such as shortness of breath and a build-up of fluid. However, biventricular heart failure can also cause its own symptoms such as fluid collection between the lung and the chest wall. This type of heart failure needs to be treated with urgency.
About Pumping Marvellous
Understanding the different types of heart failure can be beneficial to anyone who has recently been diagnosed or anyone that is supporting a family member or friend through the confusing time of diagnosis. If you would like to find out more about heart failure symptoms and heart failure treatment then visit the Pumping Marvellous website.
The Pumping Marvellous Foundation is a UK patient-led heart failure charity. Not only can we provide support for heart failure patients and their carers and family but, we are also passionate about representing the opinions and needs of heart failure patients across the UK.
Our team would happily talk through your problems and share your challenges, hoping to reduce the burden. We will also give you a voice where representation is needed and demonstrate the needs of patients via patients through their experiences. We are here for you whenever you feel you need support, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.