Problems At The Pump: Heart Failure

Updated:Mar 28,2013

Excerpted and adapted from "When Risk Factors Unite," appearing in the Stroke Connection Magazine January/February 2005 (Science update May 2008).

heart failureHeart failure (HF) can also increase stroke risk. HF is a condition in which the heart cannot pump out all the blood that returns to it. The heart works less efficiently, and the blood it should be pumping backs up in the veins that lead to the heart and can lead to swelling or fluid accumulation, often in the legs and ankles. 

Because HF is primarily a disease of the elderly, who have more strokes, it’s difficult to know precisely how much it increases stroke risk. Watch an animation of heart failure.

Risk factors for the cumulative effect of the development of heart failure (that could eventually lead to stroke), are high blood pressure, heart disease due to atherosclerosis, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and heavy alcohol use, as examples.

Learn more about heart failure, including treatments and living with heart failure at our Heart Failure website.

Other types of heart disease that raise stroke risk include dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease, infective endocarditis and some types of congenital heart defects.