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Causes of Heart Disease & Failure

Cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle, affects more than four million people in the United States. Approximately 500,000 new cases of heart disease are diagnosed each year. Depending on the underlying cause for heart disease, some patients recover completely; while other patients may go on to develop heart failure. Not everyone with cardiomyopathy has heart failure. Having heart failure simply means that your heart's pumping power is weaker than it should be.

Some of the most common reasons that are causes of heart failure or causes of heart disease are:

  • Ischemia
    This simply means that the heart does not get enough oxygen. Ischemia is usually due to a heart attack in which heart tissue becomes blocked and heart cells are replaced by scar tissue.
  • Diabetes
    Diabetes causes blockages in the small blood vessels of the heart resulting in inadequate pumping power.
  • Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
    Because the heart has to pump against a higher blood pressure, the wall of the heart chamber becomes thickened. This thicker heart muscle has weaker pumping ability and is unable to deliver blood effectively to other organs throughout the body.
  • Alcohol
    Alcohol is a toxin (poison) to the heart muscle. Even moderate amounts of alcohol consumption on a regular basis can cause cardiomyopathy.
  • Myocarditis
    This is inflammation of the heart muscle usually due to a virus such as the cold or influenza.
  • Idiopathic
    This is a diagnosis of exclusion and simply means that the cause of heart disease is unknown after other causes have been ruled out.
    Heart transplantation is not a cure for heart disease. It is a surgical treatment that is reserved only for patients with the most advanced stage of heart disease who can no longer be managed effectively with maximal medical therapy. Thus, the goal of heart transplantation is to prolong and improve the quality of life for those patients suffering from advanced heart disease.
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