Fast Five Quiz: Causes of Heart Failure

Yasmine S. Ali, MD; Jeffrey J. Hsu, MD


December 13, 2022

Systemic infection or the onset of an unrelated illness can lead to HF. In patients with systemic infection, HF can be precipitated by the increase in total metabolism that results from fever, discomfort, and cough, which increases the hemodynamic burden on the heart. The release of endotoxin-induced factors that can depress myocardial contractility can precipitate HF in patients with septic shock.

The most frequent cause of decompensation in a previously compensated patient with HF is inappropriate reduction in the intensity of treatment: for example, dietary sodium indiscretion, physical activity reduction, or inappropriate drug treatment. The second most common cause of decompensation is uncontrolled hypertension, which is closely followed by cardiac arrhythmias (usually atrial fibrillation). Arrhythmias, particularly ventricular arrhythmias, can be life threatening. In addition, patients with one form of underlying heart disease that may be well compensated can develop HF when they develop a second form of heart disease. For example, a patient with chronic hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy may be asymptomatic until myocardial infarction develops and precipitates HF.

Learn more about systemic infection and HF.


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