Left- and right-sided heart failure can both cause different symptoms. For instance, people with left-sided heart failure may experience trouble breathing, while people with right-sided heart failure may experience heart palpitations. People can have both types.
Heart failure develops when your heart muscles can’t pump enough blood throughout your body to supply your tissues with adequate oxygen.
Left-sided systolic heart failure develops from damage, weakness, or stiffness to the muscles of your left atrium and left ventricle. Likewise, right-sided heart failure develops due to weakening of the muscles in your right atrium and right ventricle.
Left- and right-sided heart failure are associated with their own sets of symptoms. Some people have heart failure on both sides and develop both types of symptoms.
Learn more about how left- and right-sided heart failure are similar and different.
Although the term heart failure suggests your heart isn’t able to function at all, it actually means your heart muscles just aren’t functioning well enough to support your body’s needs. It develops when your heart muscles are either too weak or not elastic enough to pump blood properly. About
Heart failure is usually a chronic and progressive condition, but it can develop quickly after a heart attack or other conditions that damage your heart. The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease, which is a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your heart.
The flow of blood through your heart
To understand the different types of heart failure, it helps to know how your heart pumps blood:
- unoxygenated blood flows from your body’s veins into your right atrium and then your right ventricle
- unoxygenated blood flows from your right ventricle to your lungs
- oxygenated blood flows from your lungs to your left atrium and then your left ventricle
- oxygenated blood flows from your left ventricle to your body’s arteries to be circulated throughout your body
Types of heart failure
- Left-sided systolic heart failure. There are two types of left-sided heart failure:
- Systolic failure. This is when your left ventricle isn’t able to contract normally and your heart can’t push an adequate amount of blood into circulation.
- Diastolic failure. This means your left ventricle doesn’t relax properly due to stiffness and your heart doesn’t fill with enough blood between beats, or the pressure for the heart to function is very high.
- Right-sided failure. In right-sided heart failure, your right ventricle loses pumping power and blood backs up in your veins.
- Congestive heart failure. The term heart failure is sometimes used interchangeably with congestive heart failure.
Left-sided heart failure
Left-sided heart failure is
Left-sided heart failure causes blood to build up in your pulmonary veins that carry blood from your lungs to your left atrium. This buildup of blood can cause breathing symptoms, such as:
- trouble breathing
- shortness of breath
- coughing, especially during exertion
- shortness of breath when lying down
- sleeping on extra pillows at night
Right-sided heart failure
Right-sided heart failure
Right-sided heart failure leads to blood buildup in your veins, which in turn may lead to fluid retention and swelling. The legs are the most common area to develop swelling, but it’s also possible to develop it in your genitals and abdomen.
Common symptoms of right-sided heart failure include:
- chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
- fluid retention, especially in your lower body
- weight gain
A variety of respiratory conditions can contribute to the development of right-sided heart failure. These include:
|Left-sided heart failure
|Right-sided heart failure
|your left ventricle is unable to pump blood adequately and blood builds up in the veins of your lungs
|your right ventricle can’t pump blood properly and fluid builds up, often causing swelling in your lower body or abdomen
|coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmia or long-term high blood pressure
|left-sided heart failure, some lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
|tends to cause lung congestion and symptoms that affect your breathing
|often causes fluid retention in your legs or other parts of your body
|Neck vein pressure
|mild or moderately raised blood pressure in your jugular vein
|severely elevated blood pressure in your jugular that may cause veins in your neck to pop out
Left-sided heart failure is more common, and right-sided heart failure often results from left-sided heart failure. The European Society of Cardiology registry reports about
Risk factors for developing both types of heart failure include:
- Age. Your risk of heart failure increases with age.
- Ethnicity. In the United States, Black people are
more likelyto have heart failure than people of other ethnic backgrounds. They’re also more likely to have heart failure at a younger age.
- Sex assigned at birth. Men tend to develop heart failure at a
younger agethan women.
- Family history. You’re more likely to develop heart failure if a close family member has also been diagnosed with it.
- Lifestyle factors. Consuming excessive alcohol consumption, drug misuse, smoking, and a poor diet all increase your chances of heart failure.
- Medical conditions. Certain other medical conditions, such obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, increase your likelihood of heart failure. Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation also increase your risk.
Resources for coping with heart failure
Heart failure is often a chronic and progressive condition. There’s no cure for heart failure, but learning to manage it can give you the best chance of avoiding serious complications.
Here are some resources that may help you or your loved one cope:
- 5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Complications with Left-Side Heart Failure
- 10 Tips for Caring for Someone with Heart Failure
- Meal Plans for Heart Failure
- Living with Heart Failure and Your Mental Health
- Everything You Need to Know About Heart Failure Medications
- What Are the Early Symptoms of Heart Failure?
Heart failure develops when your heart isn’t able to pump enough blood to adequately supply your tissues with oxygen. Most of the time, heart failure develops on the left side of your heart. Right-sided heart failure most commonly develops due to left-sided failure, but some lung or heart problems can also lead to right-sided failure.
Making lifestyle adjustments to improve your heart health can reduce your chances of developing severe complications. A healthcare professional can help you build a strategy for managing your heart failure and for treating any underlying conditions.