Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when your heart weakens, preventing it from performing its vital duty of transporting sufficient blood and oxygen to your body’s organs.
With CHF, fluid builds up around the heart, hindering its ability to pump blood correctly. Fluid buildup can leak from capillary blood vessels into the body’s lungs, tissues and organs. Sufficient circulation is vital to have all your body’s muscles and organs carry out the functions necessary for you to live a healthy, happy life. Through various studies, we have determined several predisposing factors of heart failure.
Learn more about the top risk factors for heart failure:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Irregular heartbeats
- Congenital heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Alcohol abuse
- Genetics/family history
CHF Risk Factors
Now that you understand what causes congestive heart failure to develop, you might want to know more about the risk factors of congestive heart failure to avoid this condition and enjoy better cardiovascular health.
Diabetes is a disease that creates high glucose levels in the blood. Typically, your pancreas should create insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels, but when this hormone is lacking, it eventually leads to high blood sugar. Diabetes also contributes to hardening and narrowing the arteries, constricting blood flow and increasing your risk of developing heart failure.
Obesity can put you at severe health risk, including issues related to your cardiovascular system. While there are genetic, behavioral, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight, you’ll usually gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. A diet that consists primarily of processed foods will be correspondingly high in unhealthy fats, carbs, sugar, sodium and cholesterol. An excess of all of these increases your chances of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, putting you at a higher risk of developing congestive heart failure.
3. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure escalates tension in the body’s arteries, which carry blood to and from the heart. People who have hypertension can also be in danger of developing congestive heart failure.
4. Heart Attack
If you’ve previously had heart attacks, you also have a higher chance of developing congestive heart failure. Each heart attack weakens the heart muscle, which could put you in danger of developing other heart conditions. A deficient heart cannot function the way it needs to, supplying blood and oxygen to organs.
5. Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries help circulate the blood back to the heart. With coronary artery disease, the walls of the heart’s artery accumulate built-up cholesterol, which creates plaque. Over time, accumulated cholesterol plaque prevents blood flow and increases the risk of developing future heart failure.
6. Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the valves in your heart don’t work properly. In these cases, the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, which can potentially lead to heart failure.
7. Irregular Heartbeats
When your heart beats irregularly, your heart becomes weakened. Sometimes this can lead to heart failure.
8. Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease refers to birth defects with the heart’s structure or the way it works. These defects can lead to other heart problems later on, all of which can weaken the heart and prevent it from pumping enough blood to the body. This, in turn, can lead to heart failure.
9. Sleep Apnea
With sleep apnea, a person’s breathing stops and starts frequently during sleep, leading to low oxygen levels. These drops in oxygen cause your heart to beat faster, which weakens the heart. In addition, oxygen level drops also weaken the blood vessels. All of these problems can contribute to heart failure.
Some viruses can weaken the cardiovascular system, eventually leading to heart failure.
Smoking allows various toxic chemicals to enter your body, and people who regularly smoke are much more prone to developing cardiovascular disease. The chemicals in cigarettes tend to build up in the body’s arteries, restricting blood flow and potentially causing complications such as clots and aneurysms.
11. Alcohol Abuse
Heavy alcohol consumption over long periods can severely harm your physical and mental health. If you misuse alcohol, you can put yourself at risk of organ failure, brain damage and even some forms of cancer. You may also experience psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, which can adversely affect your heart.
Your heart is a muscle that weakens over time, which is why adults 65 and older are at increased risk for developing congestive heart failure. About 6.2 million adults have developed heart failure in the U.S. alone, making it one of the leading causes of death among American adults.
Gender plays a part in your chances of developing congestive heart failure. Women, especially older ones, are most at risk for this condition. Congestive heart failure affects more than 2.5 million women and is a common cause of hospitalization. If you are a woman and have other listed risk factors, your odds of developing heart failure rise even higher.
14. Genetics/Family History
Your unique hereditary makeup could make you more susceptible to developing heart disease. If any of your close relatives have had coronary artery disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure or other issues such as diabetes, you could end up getting those diseases, too.
Though anyone can develop congestive heart failure, some ethnicities have a higher risk. For example, African Americans have a 30% higher risk of dying from heart disease than Caucasians. Based on your ethnicity, you may also be more vulnerable to high blood pressure.
Ways You Can Decrease Your Risk of Developing Congestive Heart Failure
Factors such as your ethnicity, age and family history are out of your control. However, specific lifestyle choices can make you less likely to develop congestive heart failure. For example, changing your eating habits can improve your cardiovascular health. You may be surprised how much better you feel after several months of choosing fresh produce, whole grains and lean protein sources instead of a diet that primarily consists of processed, prepackaged meals.
Besides being more conscious of the foods you eat, working your heart muscle can also help you stay healthy. You don’t have to choose intense workouts. Even a brief walk around the block will bring you benefits such as an improved mood, stronger bones, better balance and a stronger heart. Reducing or quitting your use of tobacco and alcohol can also boost your health in numerous ways.
How to Find Out Your Risk of CHF
It’s essential to monitor your health for any signs of congestive heart failure, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. If you think you are at risk or want to know your risk, talking to a cardiologist can help. To speak with a cardiologist today, reach out to our state-of-the-art cardiovascular practice, Modern Heart and Vascular. If you’d like to learn more about our practice, read our providers’ bios.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.