A single risk factor may be enough to cause heart failure, but a combination of factors also increases your risk.

Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure. Your heart works harder than it has to if your blood pressure is high.
  • Coronary artery disease. Narrowed arteries may limit your heart's supply of oxygen-rich blood, resulting in weakened heart muscle.
  • Heart attack. Damage to your heart muscle from a heart attack may mean your heart can no longer pump as well as it should.
  • Diabetes. Having diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Some diabetes medications. The diabetes drugs rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos) have been found to increase the risk of heart failure. Don't stop taking these medications on your own, though. If you're taking them, discuss with your doctor whether you need to make any changes.
  • Sleep apnea. The inability to breathe properly at night results in low blood oxygen levels and increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms. Both of these problems can weaken the heart.
  • Congenital heart defects. Some people who develop heart failure were born with structural heart defects.
  • Viruses. A viral infection may have damaged your heart muscle.
  • Alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol can weaken heart muscle and lead to heart failure.
  • Irregular heartbeats. These abnormal rhythms, especially if they are very frequent and fast, can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.
Aug. 16, 2013

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