Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Heart Failure Types

Congestive heart failure can be described as right ventricular, left ventricular, or both: this distinction indicates which ventricle of the heart is weak.

Right ventricular congestive heart failure
Right ventricular congestive heart failure leads to a back up of blood into the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and the lower extremities. Severe right ventricular heart failure can lead to condition called cor pulmonale.

Left ventricular congestive heart failure
Left ventricular heart failure leads to a build-up of fluid within the lungs. This condition is referred to as pulmonary edema. Isolated left ventricular congestive heart failure is more common than isolated right ventricular disease. Untreated and severe left ventricular congestive heart failure can eventually lead to right ventricular heart failure.

Bi-ventricular congestive heart failure
Both the right and left ventricles are affected. Severe left-sided heart failure can lead to bi-ventricular heart failure over time. Some conditions, such as a cardiomyopathy, often cause bi-ventricular heart failure.

Continue to Heart Failure Anatomy

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Heart Failure References
  1. Bibbins-Domingo K, Lin F, Vittinghoff E, Barrett-Connor E, Hulley SB, Grady D, Shlipak MG. Predictors of heart failure among women with coronary disease. Circulation. 2004 Sep 14;110(11):1424-30. [1535349]
  2. Chen QM, Tu VC. Apoptosis and heart failure: mechanisms and therapeutic implications. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2002;2(1):43-57. [14727998]
  3. Ebinger MW, Krishnan S, Schuger CD. Mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmias in heart failure. Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2005 Sep;2(3):111-7. [16138946]
  4. Mitchell J, Taylor A. Congestive heart failure in women. J Fam Pract. 2005 Jul;Suppl:6-7. [16134558]
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