Right-Sided vs Left-Sided Heart Failure: Difference and Comparison

Among the most important organs, the heart is one of them. Its main role is to pump blood through the body. But what if it becomes unable to pump sufficient blood as the body demands?

This condition is known as heart failure. Muscles of the heart become not elastic enough or too weak.     

There are mainly four types of heart failure, and different types of treatments and medications are required to treat them. The side of the heart affected can be divided into right-sided heart failure and left-sided heart failure.   

Key Takeaways

  1. Right-sided heart failure occurs when the right ventricle of the heart cannot pump enough blood to the lungs, while left-sided heart failure occurs when the left ventricle cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
  2. The symptoms of right-sided heart failure include fluid retention, swelling, and shortness of breath, while the symptoms of left-sided heart failure include fatigue, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough.
  3. The causes of right-sided heart failure include lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, while the causes of left-sided heart failure include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.

Right-Sided Heart Failure vs Left-Sided Heart Failure   

Right-Sided Heart Failure is the medical situation that occurs when the right ventricle in the heart can no longer supply blood to the lungs. Left-Sided Heart Failure is a medical condition that happens when the left ventricle in the heart can no longer supply blood to the body.

Right Sided Heart Failure vs Left Sided Heart Failure

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Right-sided heart failure or right ventricular heart failure is not defined as a disease but a process. It occurs when the right ventricle gets weakened and loses its power to pump blood sufficiently to the rest of the body.

Thus, the lung’s fluid is forced back and weakens the right side of the heart. As a result, right-sided heart failure is caused.    

In left-sided heart failure, the muscles on the left side of the heart are diminished, and the heart stops pumping. It is also a process, not a disease.

Left-sided heart failure occurs when the heart becomes impotent to pump oxygen-rich blood. Mainly to the heart’s left atrium, left ventricle, and body from the lungs.      

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Right-sided Heart Failure Left-sided Heart Failure  
Interpretation When the heart’s right ventricle is no longer able to pump sufficient blood to the lungs.  When the heart’s left ventricle is too weak to pump sufficient blood through the body.  
Venrticle Right ventricle Left ventricle 
Blood builds up In the veins In the pulmonary veins 
Fluid backflow Into the legs, feet, and abdomen Into the lungs 
Surgeries Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) surgery and heart transplant surgery. Congenital heart defect repair surgery and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). 

What Is Right-Sided Heart Failure?   

Right-sided heart failure occurs when the heart’s right ventricle is no longer able to pump sufficient blood to the lung, which causes the building up of blood in the veins (blood vessels that back the blood to the heart from tissue and organs).

As a result, inside the veins, pressure is increased, and the fluid is pushed into the surrounding tissue from the veins.  

Right-sided heart failure can be caused due to many reasons, such as cocaine use, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, and coronary artery disease. Men of 50-70 age who suffered from previous heart attacks experience it.

Whereas African-American men can develop right-sided heart failure because they are at higher risk. Heart muscles can also damage due to viral infections.    

Someone can’t prevent the risk factors which are associated with the failure of the right-sided heart. But by taking a few steps, the risk of this disease can be lower.

It can be possible by balancing blood sugar, reducing alcohol intake, managing sleep apnea, maintaining a healthy weight, moderate exercise, and many more.    

To diagnose right-sided heart failure, the technologies and procedures include Cardiac CT scan, Cardiac Catheterization, Blood tests, Chest X-ray, echocardiogram, coronary angiography, stress testing, myocardial biopsy, and pulmonary function studies.

Complications of right-sided heart failure include angina, cardiac cachexia, heart attack, liver damage, and atrial fibrillation.   

right sided heart failure

What is Left-Sided Heart Failure?   

Left-sided heart failure occurs when the heart’s left ventricle is too weak to pump sufficient blood through the body, which causes the building up of blood in the pulmonary veins (blood vessels get away blood from the lungs).

As a result, coughing or trouble breathing, shortness of breath -especially during physical activity.    

Left-sided heart failure can be divided into:    

  1. Systolic failure: It occurs when the left ventricle is unable to contract forcefully for sufficient blood circulation throughout the body. As a result, it deprives the supply of blood that is normal.    
  2. Diastolic heart failure occurs when the right ventricle grows thicker, and the lower-left chamber is unable to fill properly. As a result, bodies pump blood is reduced.    

Underlying health problems can cause left-sided heart failure. But majorly, it is caused due to heart-related diseases such as heart attack or coronary artery disease (CAD).

Other causes include cardiomyopathy (diseases caused due to hereditary diseases that can weaken the heart), obesity, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.

A higher risk of developing left-sided heart failure is in men. Even previous heart attacks can damage heart muscles, and their blood pumping ability gets affected.    

Cardiac function can be improved with the help of medications and treating symptoms related to left-sided heart failure.

In case medications are failed to combat left-sided heart failure, then doctors are mainly left with surgical options. Devices for implant surgeries include Pacemaker and LVAD (left ventricular assist device) surgery.   

left sided heart failure

Main Differences Between Right-Sided Heart Failure and Left-Sided Heart Failure   

  1. Signs of right-sided heart failure include fatigue, dizziness, wheezing, sudden weight gain, and fainting. In contrast, high blood pressure, chronic coughing, rapid heart rate, and enlarged heart are the signs of left-sided heart failure. 
  2. When it comes to causes diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure are a few of the causes of right-sided heart failure. In contrast, causes of left-sided heart failure include obesity, cardiomyopathy, and heavy alcohol use.    
  3. Risk factors of right-sided heart failure are chronic disease, congenital heart defects, and irregular heartbeats. On the other hand, cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, and previous heart attack are the risk factors for left-sided heart failure.  
  4. Right-sided heart failure can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, and stopping smoking. On the flip side, getting regular checkups, weighing yourself daily, and taking medications can prevent left-sided heart failure.    
  5. In terms of prognosis, for both right and left-sided heart failure, it depends on the cause and symptoms severity. Severe symptoms of right-sided heart failure include an implant of a VAD or heart transplant. In contrast, left-sided heart failure consists of implantation of the device and heart repair.   
  1. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/cir.0000000000000560
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/416605

Last Updated : 18 August, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Right-Sided vs Left-Sided Heart Failure: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I found it interesting to learn that right-sided heart failure can be triggered by factors such as heavy alcohol use and tobacco use. It’s essential to be aware of these risk factors to take preventive measures.

    1. Absolutely. Understanding these risk factors can help in taking steps to lower the risk of developing right-sided heart failure.

  2. The description of systolic failure in left-sided heart failure provides a clear understanding of the condition’s specific characteristics. It’s valuable to have this level of detail to comprehend the different forms of left-sided heart failure.

    1. Absolutely. Understanding the nuances of the condition’s classification can aid in better comprehension and management.

  3. The complications associated with right-sided heart failure are crucial to be aware of. Understanding these complications can help in early identification and management of potential risks.

  4. This article clearly outlines the various types of heart failure and their respective symptoms. It also goes on to explain the causes and the forms of treatment for right-sided and left-sided heart failures.

    1. I agree. The detailed comparison is particularly useful in helping readers better understand the differences between the two types of heart failure.

  5. This article does an excellent job of covering the diagnosis and complications associated with right-sided heart failure. It’s crucial information for individuals to be aware of.

  6. The comparison table provides a clear and concise overview of the differences between right-sided and left-sided heart failure. It’s a great visual aid for understanding the complexities of the conditions.

  7. The diagnostic procedures outlined for diagnosing right-sided heart failure are comprehensive and offer a comprehensive view of the testing process. It provides an excellent understanding of the steps involved in diagnosis.

    1. Absolutely. Having a clear understanding of the diagnostic procedures can help individuals know what to expect when going through the testing process.

  8. The article does a commendable job of outlining the causes and preventive measures for both right-sided and left-sided heart failures. It’s an essential read for individuals looking to understand these conditions comprehensively.

    1. Absolutely. This detailed coverage offers valuable insights into the preventive measures associated with both types of heart failure.

  9. This article’s coverage of left-sided heart failure provides valuable insights into the symptoms and classifications of the condition. It’s essential information for better understanding the intricacies of left-sided heart failure.

    1. I found the information on left-sided heart failure to be highly informative. It’s beneficial to have a comprehensive understanding of the condition.

  10. I appreciate the emphasis on preventive measures for right-sided heart failure, such as managing sleep apnea and maintaining a healthy weight. These are actionable steps that can make a significant difference in reducing the risk of the condition.

    1. Absolutely. Taking proactive steps towards a healthier lifestyle can play a vital role in preventing right-sided heart failure.

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