Heart failure is a term used to describe a heart that can’t keep up with its current workload. A weakened heart may not be able to supply the body with enough blood and oxygen. But what’s a normal workload for a healthy heart? To better understand how Heart Failure (HF) occurs, let’s first go over some heart anatomy, and then talk about how a healthy heart functions.

The heart is a strong muscular pump inside the chest. It has four chambers that work to pump blood continuously throughout the circulatory system. Your heartbeat has two phases. The first is called the “systole” [sis-tuh-lee]. This is when the ventricles contract to send blood forward into the lungs and body. The second phase is called a “diastole” [dia-stuh-lee], which is where the ventricles relax and fill with blood to prepare for the next heartbeat.

Oxygen-depleted blood from the body enters the right atrium, then is pumped into the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps the oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The now oxygen-rich blood will travel to the left atrium and onward to the left ventricle to pump oxygenated blood throughout the rest of the body. When the heart muscles are unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen, this is known as the condition called Heart Failure (HF).

According to the American Heart Association, the types of Heart Failure include:

  • Left-sided or left ventricular (LV) heart failure. This is when the heart is unable to properly pump out blood to the body). There are two types of LV:
    • Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), also called systolic failure
    • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), also called diastolic failure
  • Right-sided or right ventricular (RV) heart failure. (This is when back-ups in the area that collects “used” blood and usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure.
  • Congestive heart failure. This is when fluid backs up into the lungs and tissues.

Talk to your care team to help identify what type of heart problem you have. For more information about the heart or the different types of heart failure, reach out to your Health Advisor. We’re here to help!

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