Heart Failure Classifications

The symptoms and physical changes of heart failure have several different classifications based on their location and mechanism.

Right vs. Left Sided Heart Failure

  • Right Heart Failure – The inability of the right side of the heart to adequately pump venous blood into the pulmonary circulation. This causes a back-up of fluid in the body, resulting in swelling and edema.
  • Left Heart Failure – The inability of the left side of the heart to pump blood into the systemic circulation. Back-up behind the left ventricle causes accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

As a result of those failures, symptoms can be due to:

  • Forward Heart Failure – The inability of the heart to pump blood at a sufficient rate to meet the oxygen demands of the body at rest or during exercise.
  • Backward Heart Failure – The ability of the heart to pump blood at a sufficient rate ONLY when heart filling pressures are abnormally high.
  • Congestive Heart Failure – Fluid in the lungs or body, resulting from inadequate pumping from the heart and high heart filling and venous pressures.