What Is Heart Failure?

The name of this condition can be a little confusing. When you have heart failure, it doesn't mean your ticker stopped beating. What's really going on is that your heart can't pump blood as well or efficiently as as a healthy one. Heart failure is just one type of heart disease which is any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. The chambers of your heart may respond by stretching to carry more blood to pump through your body. They may become stiffer and thicker. This helps keep blood moving for a while, but in time, your heart muscle walls may get weaker. Your kidneys react by causing your body to hold on to water and salt. Fluid may start to build up in your arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs.

Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, Heart Disease is a group of conditions with many different root causes.


There are many different types of heart disease. Some types can be grouped together according to how they affect the structure or function of your heart.  

  •    Coronary artery and vascular disease are due to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) that supply blood and oxygen to your heart. It means less blood flows to your heart muscle. When the arteries narrow or get blocked, your heart becomes starved for oxygen and nutrients and can't pump as well. It’s the most common kind of heart disease and causes most heart attacks and anginas (chest pain). Vascular disease is problems in other blood vessels (not part of the heart) which reduce blood flow and affect the function of your heart.
  •    Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) cause the heart to beat too slowly, too quickly or in a disorganised fashion. Millions of Canadians experience heart rhythm disorders which disrupt blood flow. There are many types of arrhythmias – some have no symptoms or warning signs; others can be sudden and fatal.
  •    Structural heart disease refers to abnormalities of the heart’s structure – including its valves, walls, muscles or the blood vessels near the heart. One can be born with it (congenital) or acquire it after birth through infection, wear and tear, or trauma.
  •    And of course,  Heart failure. The most serious condition that develops after the heart becomes damaged or weakened. The two most common causes of heart failure are heart attack and high blood pressure. There is no cure, but early diagnosis, lifestyle changes and medication can help people lead an active life and long life.


Heart disease can be caused by many factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Poor or unhealthy diet
  • Sedentary life style or little to no physical activity
  • Stress
  • Recreational drugs

Some risk factors you have no control over:

  • Gender 
  • Age
  • Family or medical history
  • South Asian and African Heritage
  • Indegenous heritage



The good news is that most heart disease is preventable. And if you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, there are ways you can reduce your risk of developing more heart problems. Consider these heart-healthy steps:

  • Be smoke-free.
  • Be physically active.
  • Know and control your blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Visit your doctor regularly and follow their advice.

Are you or someone you love at risk of heart attacks?

Be prepared. Get a SmHeart Card. Easy to carry and convenient when needed since minutes matter. SmHeartCard holds ASA and Nitroglycerin pills for immediate treatment of heart attack. 

Contant any one of our pharmacies to purchase or refill a SmHeart Card or visit SmHeart Card for information.