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Right-sided heart failure

  • Alternative Names

    Congestive heart failure - right-sided

    • Shortness of breath
    • Swelling of feet and ankles
    • Urinating more frequently at night
    • Pronounced neck veins
    • Palpitations (sensation of feeling the heart beat)
    • Irregular fast heartbeat
    • Fatigue
    • Weakness
    • Fainting

    A variety of different situations may trigger an episode of heart failure, including:

    • Increased intake of fluids or salt
    • Fever
    • Infections
    • Anemia
    • Blockage in the coronary arteries
    • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
    • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
    • Kidney disease

    Many people admitted to the hospital with heart failure do not follow a recommended low-salt diet or take heart failure medicines as prescribed.

    Signs and tests

    Your health care provider will conduct a physical examination, which may reveal:

    • Abnormal heart sounds
    • Abnormal lung sounds
    • Murmurs
    • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
    • Weight gain
    • Distended neck veins
    • Enlarged liver
    • Ankle swelling

    Heart failure patients may undergo some of the following common tests:

    • An ECG, to look for signs of thickened heart muscle or enlarged heart chambers. The electric system of the heart and heart rhythm may not be normal.
    • A chest x-ray, to look for enlargement of the heart and fluid accumulation in the lungs.
    • An echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) and a Doppler study, which may show heart chambers enlargement, leaky valves, and poor pumping function.

    The following lab tests may be performed:

    • CBC
    • Blood chemistry
    • Liver function tests
    • Urinalysis
    • Thyroid function tests
    • B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP)

    Cardiac catheterization may be performed. In right heart catheterization, a catheter is inserted through a vein into the right side of the heart to measures the pressures. Sometimes, an injection of contrast material ("dye") in the right ventricle is necessary to help understand the problem (right ventriculography).

    The left ventricle and arteries in a similar fashion.