Heart Center, featuring the Luce Heart Institute

Types of Heart Failure

The left-ventricle of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. This ventricle is larger than the other chambers in the heart and supplies most of the heart's pumping power. In left-sided heart failure the left side of the heart must work harder to pump the same amount of blood to the body.

Left-sided heart failure (two types):

  • Systolic - the left ventricle loses its ability to pump normally. It can't pump with enough force to push blood into circulation.
  • Diastolic - the left ventricle doesn't relax normally because the muscle is stiff. The heart doesn't fill with blood during the resting period between each beat.

Right sided heart failure:

The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. Right-sided heart failure happens because of left-sided failure. When the left ventricle weakens fluid builds up in the lungs and causes damage to the right side of the heart. When the right side loses its pumping ability, blood backs up in the veins and causes swelling and congestion resulting in congestive heart failure.

Congestive Heart Failure:

When blood flow out of the heart slows down, blood returning to the heart backs up, causing congestion throughout the body. This is most often seen as swelling in the legs and ankles. If fluid collects in the lungs, it causes shortness of breath, especially when a person is lying down. Heart failure also affects the kidney's ability to dispose of sodium and water; retained fluid continues to collect in the body and can create a medical emergency.