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Left-sided heart failure

  • Definition

    Left-sided heart failure is a life-threatening condition in which the left side of the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body.

    Alternative Names

    Congestive heart failure - left

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Heart failure may affect the right side, the left side, or both sides of the heart. The left side of the heart receives blood rich in oxygen from the lungs and pumps it to the remainder of the body. As the ability to pump blood forward from the left side of the heart is decreased, the remainder of the body does not receive enough oxygen especially when exercising. This results in fatigue.

    In addition, the pressure in the veins of the lung increases, which may cause fluid accumulation in the lung. This results in shortness of breath and pulmonary edema.

    Common causes of left-sided failure include the following:

    • Heart attack
    • Chronic blockages of the heart arteries
    • High blood pressure
    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • Leaking or narrow heart valves
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Heart muscle infections
    • Any other disease that damages the heart muscle

    In children, common causes include heart birth defects such as abnormal heart valves, abnormal blood vessel connections, or viral infections.

    Left-sided heart failure occurs in approximately 1 to 3 of every 100 people and becomes more prevalent with age.