Causes of systolic heart failure

By far the most common cause of systolic heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD can cause systolic heart failure by causing injury to the heart muscle because of poor blood flow in the coronary arteries or by causing the death of various areas of the heart muscle because of prior heart attacks.

Causes of systolic heart failure


What is it?

How it causes heart failure

Risk factors

Coronary artery disease (CAD) Blockages in your coronary arteries that limit blood flow to your heart muscle Weakens or damages heart muscle; impairs muscle’s ability to pump
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history of CAD
  • Male
  • Older age
Cardiomyopathy A disease of the heart muscle Heart muscle is weakened, which affects its ability to pump properly
  • Alcoholism
  • Cocaine usage
  • Infectious diseases
  • Inherited forms
  • Vitamin-poor diet
  • Exposure to chemical toxins
High blood pressure (hypertension) Elevated pressure in your arteries The heart works harder to pump against increased pressure, which weakens the muscle.
  • Inherited forms of hypertension
  • High salt intake
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Smoking
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.
  • Older age
  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Congenital bicuspid aortic valve
Mitral regurgitation Mitral valve doesn't close properly, causing leakage on left side of the heart Increased blood volume stretches and weakens heart muscle.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Infection in the heart
Viral myocarditis Viral infection of your heart muscle Inflammation in the heart muscle affects the heart's ability to pump.
  • Exposure to certain viruses
Arrhythmia Irregular heart rhythm Irregular rhythm reduces the pumping effectiveness of the heart.
  • CAD
  • Inherited predisposition
  • Cocaine use
  • High thyroid function
  • Abnormal electrolyte levels

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

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