Am I at Risk for Developing Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a dangerous, possibly fatal condition that affects your circulation. How do you know if you’re at risk for this serious heart condition? Paying attention to your body and how you’re feeling is the first step. Yet you may have symptoms of congestive heart failure without realizing that’s the problem.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, our team of board-certified cardiologists can help you understand the root causes of your symptoms and give you the care you need. Here, we explain what you need to know about congestive heart failure your risk for developing CHF.

What is congestive heart failure?

CHF is a disorder that prevents your heart from efficiently pumping blood through the rest of your body. About 6 million Americans are affected by this condition. Symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations, and even memory loss. 

How does CHF feel?

You may feel nauseous, notice reduced endurance, and experience discomfort and swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. You may even feel the need to urinate more often. Although these are symptoms of a number of possible conditions, our doctors can help you determine if your symptoms could be due to congestive heart failure.

What are the risk factors?

Like every long-term medical condition, congestive heart failure doesn’t suddenly appear one day, and you’re affected for the rest of your life. There are quite a few warning signs and other conditions that could put you at greater risk for developing CHF.

Congenital heart defects

Some people are born with heart defects — such as leaky valves, underdeveloped blood vessels, or a hole in your heart. These can raise your risk of congestive heart failure because your heart may not have the ability to perform its normal functions. 

Severe lung disease

Lung diseases, even those as common as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can increase your risk of developing CHF. Lung disorders and diseases make it more difficult for oxygenated blood to reach your heart to be pumped throughout your body. 


Having high blood pressure makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood through your body. Unlike cardio exercise, which challenges your heart, hypertension strains and weakens your heart. High blood pressure can also reduce your endurance and cause headaches and fatigue. 

Coronary artery disease and previous heart attacks 

Coronary artery disease is not only the most common form of heart disease, but also the leading cause of congestive heart failure. It also causes heart attacks. The disease’s main symptom is the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which slows the flow of blood.


Between the two types of diabetes — hereditary, or Type 1, and environmental, or Type 2 — Type 2 diabetes can increase your chances of developing CHF. Nearly 40% of people living with Type 2 diabetes develop acute congestive heart failure. 


An inflamed heart (myocarditis) puts you at risk of developing CHF, and directly cause an irregular heartbeat. There are several causes of myocarditis, with viral infection and drug and alcohol use ranking among the top causes. 

Who is at risk for congestive heart failure?

The disease has an unfortunate prevalence among African-Americans. Men of all races are more vulnerable to congestive heart failure than women, and anyone over age 65 should remain cognizant of their heart’s health at all times.

Congestive heart failure doesn’t have to be a life-ending disease. Our team is dedicated to helping you live a full, active life and preventing as much damage to your heart as possible. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with CHF, or if you have any of the risk factors, please reach out to us by phone or online to make an appointment at one of our five locations. 

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