Heart Failure: Risk Factors
University's Advanced Heart Failure Center
1350 Walton Way
Augusta, GA 30901-2629
Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Coronary artery disease, heart attack, and high blood pressure are the main causes and risk factors of heart failure. Other diseases that damage or weaken the heart muscle or heart valves can also cause heart failure. Heart failure is most common in people over age 65, African-Americans, and women.
Heart failure risk increases with advancing age. Heart failure is the most common reason for hospitalization in people age 65 years and older.
Men are at higher risk for heart failure than women. However, women are more likely than men to develop diastolic heart failure (a failure of the heart muscle to relax normally).
African-Americans are more likely than white people to develop heart failure before age 50 and die from the condition.
Family History and Genetics
People with a family history of cardiomyopathies (diseases that damage the heart muscle) are at increased risk of developing heart failure. Researchers are investigating specific genetic variants that increase heart failure risk.
People with diabetes are at high risk for heart failure, particularly if they also have coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Some types of diabetes medications, such as rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos), may cause or worsen heart failure. Chronic kidney disease caused by diabetes also increases heart failure risk.
Obesity is associated with both high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, conditions that place people at risk for heart failure. Evidence strongly suggests that obesity itself is a major risk factor for heart failure, particularly in women.
Smoking, sedentary lifestyle and alcohol and drug abuse can increase the risk of developing heart failure.
Medications Associated with Heart Failure
Certain drugs can potentially damage the heart and increase the risk for heart failure. Long-term use of high-dose anabolic steroids (male hormones used to build muscle mass) increases the risk for heart failure. The cancer drug imatinib (Gleevec) has been associated with heart failure. Other chemotherapy drugs, such as doxorubicin, can increase the risk for developing heart failure years after cancer treatment. (Cancer radiation therapy to the chest can also damage the heart muscle.)