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Left-Sided and Right-Sided Heart Failure

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What do I need to know about heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition that does not allow your heart to fill or pump properly. Heart failure may begin on the left or right side of the heart. If one side does not work properly, the other side has to work harder to function. Over time, heart failure affects both sides of the heart. Heart failure is a long-term condition that tends to get worse over time. It is important to manage your health to improve your quality of life.

Heart Failure

What is left-sided heart failure?

The left side of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood from the lungs out to your body. Left-sided heart failure means your left ventricle does not work correctly. It may not fill with blood as it should, or it may not pump blood out to your body properly. Left-sided heart failure can cause swelling in your lungs that leads to breathing problems.

What is right-sided heart failure?

The right side of your heart brings in circulated blood from your body. It sends the blood to the lungs to get oxygen. Right-sided heart failure means your right ventricle cannot pump blood into your lungs properly. Blood and fluid back up in your body, causing swelling in your feet and possibly your abdomen.

What are the signs and symptoms of heart failure?

The signs and symptoms depend on how severe your heart failure is. The signs and symptoms you have may be due to the backup of fluid and blood in your tissues. It may also be due to decreased oxygen in your blood. You may have any of the following:

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Tell your healthcare provider about your health history and the medicines you take. Tell him or her if you have a family history of heart failure or cardiomyopathy. He or she will ask about your shortness of breath and other symptoms. Your provider will make a diagnosis based on your physical exam, symptoms, and tests. The diagnosis may be left-sided or right-sided heart failure, or heart failure that affects both sides. You may need any of the following:

How is heart failure treated?

Your healthcare providers will help you manage any other health conditions that may be causing your heart failure. The goals of treatment are to manage, slow, or reverse heart damage. Treatment may include the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage swelling from extra fluid?

What can I do to manage heart failure?

Your quality of life may improve with treatment and the following:

Prevent Heart Disease

Where can I get support or more information?

Heart failure can be difficult to manage. It may be helpful to talk with others who have heart failure. You may learn how to better manage your condition or get emotional support. For more information:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.