Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
If you have heart failure, your heart has lost the ability to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.
You may have weak or damaged ventricular walls that are not able to push enough blood out of your heart.
You may also have stiff and thickened ventricular walls that do not allow your heart to fill with enough blood.
If you have left-sided heart failure, your left ventricle does not deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to your body,
making you feel tired and out of breath.
Your failing left ventricle also increases the blood pressure in the blood vessels between
your lungs and left ventricle.
This increased pressure forces fluid out of your blood and into your lung tissues,
which makes it difficult for you to breathe.
If you have right-sided heart failure, your right ventricle is unable to contract with enough force
to push blood to your lungs.
The result is a buildup of blood in your veins,
which causes a buildup of fluid, called edema, throughout the tissues in your body.
Over time, heart failure on either side of your heart results in weakened, enlarged ventricles
that deliver less blood to your body.
To make up for the decreased amount of blood, your nervous system releases stress hormones
that increase the speed and force of your heartbeat.
Unfortunately, the continued release of these stress hormones makes your heart failure worse
because they damage the muscle cells in your ventricles.