Risk Factors for Heart Failure

Because heart failure often has its root cause in another condition such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, the risk factors for the condition encompass the risk factors for many other cardiovascular diseases and conditions. They are the usual suspects: age; a diet high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium; lack of exercise; obesity; smoking; and abuse of alcohol.

People who have suffered a heart attack are far more likely to develop heart failure than the general population. According to the American Heart Association, 22 percent of male and 46 percent of female heart attack victims will suffer heart failure within six years following the event.

Other events in a person’s medical history can also contribute to or cause heart failure. People who have undergone chemotherapy to treat cancer, for example, sometimes sustain heart tissue damage as a result — damage that eventually leads to heart failure.

Cardiologists can use an echocardiogram, or “echo” — an ultrasound image of the heart — to monitor the heart function of high-risk patients for signs of heart failure, even before any symptoms show up.