What Causes Chronic Heart Failure? Factors, Symptoms, and Prevention

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD - Men's Health Doctor & Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Founder, Fit Father Project
Founder, Fit Mother Project

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD - Men's Health Doctor & Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Founder, Fit Father Project
Founder, Fit Mother Project

chronic heart failure
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and of the ways in which your heart can shut down, chronic heart failure—also sometimes referred to as congestive heart failure—may be one of the scariest.

CHF occurs when your heart simply can't pump blood the way it should. It affects as many as 200,000 Americans each year, and there is no cure.

Chronic Heart Failure can lead to complete heart failure and death, so clearly, it isn't something to be taken lightly.

What Do We Mean By Chronic Heart Failure?

Heart failure simply means the heart isn't able to do its job of moving blood adequately through the body.

chronic heart failureAs a result, your body doesn't work the way it is supposed to, because oxygen isn't transported as it should be, circulation is limited, and more.

The most common symptoms of chronic heart failure are:

  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat (the heart works harder to try and circulate blood)
  • Shortness of breath (not enough oxygen is being transported throughout the body)
  • Swollen legs (blood may pool there as your heart struggles to circulate it back up to the heart)

More troubling, congestive (or chronic) heart failure often isn't caught until it has become a major problem, simply because the onset of symptoms frequently occurs over the course of years, meaning individuals with chronic heart failure often don't realize anything is wrong until it is very, very wrong.

The most common causes of chronic heart failure are things you might already suspect—heart disease, previous heart trauma, and hypertension, or high blood pressure.

What you may not suspect is that diabetes is also a major contributing factor.

If you have any of the above factors, it's likely your doctor has already discussed with you your risk of chronic heart failure.

graphic of heart chronic heart failureIn general, congenital heart failure develops over time and can manifest in several ways, depending on which side of the heart is failing.

For instance, if the right side of the heart is failing, the heart is unable to adequately pump oxygenated blood effectively, and shortness of breath is a common side effect.

If the left side of the heart is affected, the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Of course, most often, CHF affects both sides of the heart.

Factors that Contribute to an Increased Risk of Chronic Heart Failure

It may not surprise you that these are in general, the same factors that contribute to an increased risk of any cardiovascular disease:

  • Alcohol (particularly when not used in moderation)
  • Diet (especially high fat and salt content)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Most often, however, individuals who are at a high risk of CHF because of these lifestyle choices may have no idea that they are at risk.

warm up exercises how many calories in a low carb diet

Get Regular Checkups

This is another arena in which seeing your doctor on a regular basis, as well as taking ownership of your health in making healthier lifestyle choices, can be of tremendous benefit.

Less well-known causes of CHF include:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Myocarditis
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Arrhythmias are simply irregular heart rhythms.

chronic heart failureWhile not themselves a direct cause of CHF, they have been linked to each other, likely as a result of underlying issues with the health of the heart.

In particular, atrial fibrillation has shown a tremendous link to an increased risk of congestive heart failure.

Cardiomyopathy, which simply means disease of the heart muscle, is especially linked to chronic or congestive heart failure and can manifest in many different ways.

For instance, congestive or dilated cardiomyopathy means that the heart tissue stretches and weakens, meaning the heart is no longer able to pump effectively.

Other types of cardiomyopathy may affect the heart in different ways, but in each case, the diseased tissue is not able to function correctly, which causes the rest of the body great difficulties.
Myocarditis, or an irritation of the heart muscle, can cause similar issues.

If you think about your heart as a muscle, you can understand how irritation to that muscle can cause it to function less efficiently than it should, which can likewise have dire consequences—especially if the myocarditis may cause arrhythmia, which makes it difficult to pump blood effectively and efficiently.

Valvular heart disease can also cause congestive heart failure as blood may not have adequate pressure because of damage done to the valves, whether via aortic stenosis (a narrowing of the aortic valve) or even potentially leaky valves.

heart disease infographic
warm up exercises how many calories in a low carb diet

Take Steps to Avoid Heart Disease

Your best bet for avoiding congestive heart failure? Get regular checkups and adjust your lifestyle to minimize those risk factors, because again, there is no cure.

Lifestyle adjustments can be painful at first, but can quickly transform into fun habits with the proper mindset. We have a wide range of tools that can help you with this transition and obtain a healthy and long-lasting body.

Here’s How Busy Fathers Over 40 Are Finally Burning Stubborn Belly Fat & Getting Healthy Without Restrictive Diets or Time-Consuming Workouts

This proven "Fit Father Program" has helped 38,000 busy men 40+ lose weight, rebuild muscle, and finally keep the weight off.

If you're frustrated with stubborn belly fat, failed diets, and time-consuming workouts, this is the answer you’ve been looking for…

Join 38,000 guys in over 108 countries that are using FF30X to lose weight. You get everything you need to succeed – including:
  • The Fit Father Meal Plan – with simple & delicious recipes
  • Safe & Effective Workouts Program – only 90 min/week
  • VIP Accountability Coaching – our Fit Father Team will personally walk you to success, step-by-step.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FF30X >> See the FF30X Program overview here. You’ll discover how this proven Fit Father Program can help you lose weight and actually keep it off – without the complication and restriction of normal diets. »

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on chronic heart failure.

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD - Men's Health Doctor & Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Founder, Fit Father Project
Founder, Fit Mother Project

Fit Father Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Father Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Father Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Father Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
  5. We openly take feedback here on our contact page. We welcome your content suggestions… and even feedback on grammar (we’d like to thing that we’re pretty OK at spelling and “stuff”).
  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality. – The Fit Father Project Team


Terms of Service & Privacy Policy