Pathophysiology of Heart Failure

Posted by e-Medical PPT
Heart failure is caused by any condition which reduces the efficiency of the myocardium, or heart muscle, through damage or overloading. As such, it can be caused by as diverse an array of conditions as myocardial infarction,hypertension and amyloidosis (in which protein is deposited in the heart muscle, causing it to stiffen).Over time these increases in workload will produce changes to the heart itself:
* Reduced force of contraction, due to overloading of the ventricle. In health, increased filling of the ventricle results in increased force of contraction (by the Frank–Starling law of the heart) and thus a rise in cardiac output. In heart failure this mechanism fails, as the ventricle is loaded with blood to the point where heart muscle contraction becomes less efficient. This is due to reduced ability to cross-link actin and myosin filaments in over-stretched heart muscle.
* A reduced stroke volume, as a result of a failure of systole, diastole or both. Increased end systolic volume is usually caused by reduced contractility. Decreased end diastolic volume results from impaired ventricular filling – as occurs when the compliance of the ventricle falls (i.e. when the walls stiffen).
* Increased heart rate, stimulated by increased sympathetic activity in order to maintain cardiac output. Initially, this helps compensate for heart failure by maintaining blood pressure and perfusion, but places further strain on the myocardium, increasing coronary perfusion requirements, which can lead to worsening of ischemic heart disease. Sympathetic activity may also cause potentially fatal arrhythmias.
* Hypertrophy of the myocardium, caused by the terminally differentiated heart muscle fibres increasing in size in an attempt to improve contractility. This may contribute to the increased stiffness and decreased ability to relax during diastole.
* Enlargement of the ventricles, contributing to the enlargement and spherical shape of the failing heart. The increase in ventricular volume also causes a reduction in stroke volume due to mechanical and contractile inefficiency.

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