Heart failure can be categorized into different types depending on various factors. While most conditions cause similar symptoms, clear identification of the type of heart failure is crucial for doctors to determine the proper course of treatment.
You can check out our previous blogs for a detailed glimpse of heart failure symptoms. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at different types of heart failure. Let’s get started.
Diastolic vs. Systolic Heart Failure
Systolic heart failure is a condition characterized by an ejection fraction lower than 50%. Also known as heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, it’s the result of a problem in the contraction phase of the heart’s pumping cycle.
It happens when the left ventricle weakens and fails to contract properly and pump an adequate amount of oxygenated blood into the arteries. As the condition worsens, it can compromise the right ventricle, too.
Diastolic heart failure represents a problem in the relaxed phase of the heart’s pumping cycle. It happens when the ventricles become stiff and thick and can’t relax enough. That means an adequate amount of blood doesn’t fill the heart, causing it to back up in the lungs. Also known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, the condition is more common in elderly women with hypertension or diabetes.
Left-Sided vs. Right-Sided Heart Failure
In left-sided heart failure, the left ventricle becomes weak and doesn’t expel enough blood into the arteries. It causes fluid buildup in the lungs and leads to shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Also, it results in a lack of adequate blood supply to the organs, resulting in confusion, fatigue, and pale skin color.
The most common causes of left-sided heart failure include coronary artery disease, hypertension, heart valve damage, and dilated cardiomyopathy.
Right-sided heart failure is characterized by a weak right ventricle, due to which an adequate amount of deoxygenated blood doesn’t reach the lungs. Instead, it flows back into the veins and results in swelling in the legs and abdomen. The most common cause of right-sided heart failure is left-sided heart failure.
Compensated vs. Decompensated Heart Failure
When a patient has heart failure, but their heart is functioning well enough not to cause any visible symptoms, the condition is known as compensated heart failure. As the condition progresses, it causes serious symptoms, such as breathlessness and fluid buildup, that require medical attention. This condition is known as decompensated heart failure.
Decompensated heart failure is usually the result of a gradual deterioration of the heart pumping capacity due to pre-existing heart failure. However, if the onset of the condition is new and sudden, it is known as acute decompensated heart failure.
End-Stage Heart Failure
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have defined four distinct stages of heart failure. End-stage heart failure refers to the final (most advanced stage), where a patient’s symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalization. Also, they might need specialized treatment to stay out of the hospital.
Heart failure can be of various types, depending on its underlying causes and the severity of symptoms. Doctors use tests like ECG, echocardiogram, stress testing, etc., to identify the type of heart failure and determine the right course of treatment.
If you or anyone you know has been experiencing symptoms of heart failure, feel free to reach out to Dr. C Raghu, one of India’s leading cardiologists.