Often there is not one single cause of heart failure, but there are a number of conditions that increase your risk. These include:
- coronary heart disease
- high blood pressure
- damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) — from infections but also from alcohol misuse, drug abuse, or a heart attack
- heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), such as atrial fibrillation
- heart valve disease, damage or problems with the valves in the heart
- an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
- being born with a heart problem (congenital heart disease)
- an overactive thyroid gland
- some chronic diseases, like diabetes or HIV
Some things in your lifestyle can put you at greater risk of developing heart failure. Making lifestyle changes or taking medicines can reduce many of the risk factors for developing coronary heart disease or having a heart attack, both of which can lead to heart failure.
You can also talk to your doctor about managing diabetes or sleep apnoea properly, and whether the medicines you are taking put you at risk of heart failure.
There are simple things you can do to protect your heart. Eat a healthy diet to reduce your cholesterol level and keep to a healthy weight. Keep physically active, cut down on the salt in your diet and don't drink more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol a day. It's also important to watch your mental health and keep stress levels down.
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Last reviewed: July 2018