Systolic Heart Failure - Topic Overview
Systolic heart failure happens when the left side of your heart doesn't pump blood out to the body as well as normal.
What happens to the heart?
Systolic heart failure typically affects the left side of the heart. This is the side that pumps blood to the body. The heart's lower chamber, called the left ventricle, cannot pump blood as well.
It's called systolic because your ventricle doesn't squeeze forcefully enough during systole, which
is the phase of your heartbeat when your heart pumps blood.
Tests may show a low ejection fraction. This means that your left ventricle isn't working as well as normal.
What causes it?
There are many different problems that can cause systolic heart failure.
Causes of systolic heart failure
What is it?
How it causes heart failure
Coronary artery disease or heart attack
|Blockages in your coronary arteries that limit blood
flow to your heart muscle||It weakens or damages heart muscle and impairs the muscle's
ability to pump.|
| Cardiomyopathy||A disease of the heart muscle ||The heart muscle is weakened, which affects its ability
to pump properly.|
|High blood pressure||Elevated pressure in your arteries ||The heart works harder to pump against increased
pressure, which weakens the muscle.|
|Aortic stenosis||Opening of aortic valve is narrowed, impairing blood
flow||The heart works harder to pump blood through the
narrowed valve, weakening the muscle.|
|Mitral regurgitation||Mitral valve doesn't close properly, causing leakage
on left side of the heart||Increased blood volume stretches and weakens heart
|Viral myocarditis||Viral infection of your heart muscle||Inflammation in the heart muscle affects the heart's
ability to pump.|
|Arrhythmia||Irregular heart rhythm||Irregular rhythm reduces the pumping effectiveness
of the heart.|
Gradual heart damage
Coronary artery disease causes gradual heart damage over time. Ischemia is the medical term for what happens when your heart muscle doesn't
get enough oxygen. Ischemia may happen only once in a while, such as when you
are exercising and your heart muscle needs more oxygen than it normally does.
Ischemia can also be ongoing
(chronic) if your coronary arteries are so narrowed that they limit blood flow
to your heart all the time. This chronic lack of oxygen can gradually damage
portions of your heart muscle. Your heart can slowly lose its ability to pump blood to your body.
Chronic ischemia can allow your heart muscle to get just enough
oxygen to stay alive but not enough oxygen to work normally. Ongoing poor blood flow to the heart muscle reduces the heart's ability
to contract and causes it to pump less blood during each beat. The less blood
your heart pumps out to your body, the less blood it is actually pumping back
to itself through the coronary arteries. The end result is that heart failure
makes ischemia worse, which in turn makes heart failure worse.