Skip to Content
Heart failure means that your heart muscle does not pump as much blood as your body needs. Failure doesn't mean that your heart has stopped. It means that your heart is not pumping as well as it should.
There is more than one type of heart failure, so you might hear your doctor call it different names. The types are based on what problem in the heart is causing it to not pump blood as well. More than one problem might be causing your heart failure.
People with heart
failure can have more than one type. For example, left-sided
heart failure can cause right-sided heart failure. In such cases, heart failure
doesn't have more than one cause, but rather the heart failure is affecting
the heart in more than one way. In other cases, there may be two separate
problems, such as mitral regurgitation causing left-sided heart failure but
tricuspid regurgitation causing right-sided heart failure.
For most people, heart failure affects the left side of the heart. This is the side that pumps blood to the body. The heart's lower chamber, called the left ventricle, either cannot pump blood as well, or it cannot fill with blood normally. The measurement of how well the heart pumps blood is called the ejection fraction. The ejection fraction is used to help diagnose the type of heart failure.
Right-sided heart failure means that the right side of the heart is not pumping blood to the lungs as well as normal.
High-output heart failure can happen when the
body's need for blood is unusually high. The heart may be working well
otherwise, but it cannot pump out enough blood to keep up with
this extra need. This type happens to a small number of people who have heart failure.
Other Works Consulted
Yancy CW, et al. (2013). 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the management of heart failure: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 62(16): e147–e239.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologyE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as ofAugust 17, 2015
Current as of:
August 17, 2015
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2016 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)