Left-Sided Heart FailureWhen the heart pumps, it moves oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left atrium, and then into the left ventricle, which pumps it throughout the body. >>See How the Heart Works
Because the left ventricle provides most of the heart's pumping power, it's larger than the other chambers and vital for normal function. In left-sided or left ventricular (LV) heart failure, the left side of the heart must work harder to pump the same amount of blood.
There are two types of left-sided heart failure.
Right-Sided Heart FailureThe right side of the heart pumps "used" blood that returns to the heart through the veins through the right atrium and into the right lower chamber (ventricle). The right ventricle then pumps the blood back out of the heart into the lungs where it picks up oxygen.
Right-sided or right ventricular (RV) heart failure usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure. When the left ventricle fails, increased fluid pressure is, in effect, transferred back through the lungs and can damage the heart's right side. When the right side loses pumping power, blood backs up in the body's veins. This usually causes swelling in the legs and ankles (edema).
Congestive Heart FailureAs the heart's pumping becomes less effective, it works harder. The heart muscle becomes enlarged. The kidneys receive less blood and compensate by filtering less fluid, salt and waste out of circulation and into the urine.
Excess fluid in the blood increases the volume of blood, causing blood pressure to increase. Fluid may build up in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and the arms and legs. This is called fluid "congestion" and for this reason doctors call this "congestive heart failure". As blood pressure increases, it can damage the blood vessels of the heart and kidneys and those throughout the body.