Easily Remember the Most Common Cause of Right-Sided Heart Failure

(You can read an UPDATED VERSION of this article about Right-Sided Heart Failure)

If you hang around Your Nursing Tutor for longer than 30-seconds, then you usually discover that I think Anatomy & Physiology is one of the most important things you can study to be successful in nursing school.  Remembering the most common cause of right-sided heart failure is a perfect example of why I believe that.

My version of cardiac A&P

If you review the blood flow through the heart and body, you can quickly see that the blood goes into the Right-side of the heart, through the lungs, into the left-side of the heart, then out to the body.  It should be no surprise that left-sided heart failure is more common than right-sided.  After all, the left-side of the heart has to work way harder to push blood around the entire body, while the right-side of the heart only has to push blood through the lungs.

So let’s start with the problem of left-sided heart failure.

In left-sided heart failure, the left-side of the heart is no longer as effective at pushing blood into the body.  Basically, it can only push a little bit of blood at a time.

Now, what does this mean for the right-side of the heart?  Well, there’s nothing wrong with the right-side of the heart (yet), so the right-side of the heart continues to try and push a LOT of blood into the lungs.  Once the blood gets to the lungs, though, it’s like a traffic jam because the left-side of the heart can’t move the blood as quickly anymore.

Over time, the right-side of the heart has to work harder and harder to push blood into the already overcrowded lungs.  Eventually, the right-side of the heart just gets tired and can’t do it anymore. And you end up with right-sided Heart Failure.

That means that the most common cause of Right-sided Heart Failure is:  Left-sided Heart Failure.

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11 Comments

  1. Molly

    This is so helpful!!! I read over the heart failure section of my med-surg book a thousand times and founds tons of articles on other websites, but for some reason just couldn’t grasp the concept of HF…until now! Thank you so much! 🙂

  2. This was easy to understand..after all the years of my dear mom who died at 54 going through two heart operations..steel valves inserted and much more I can relate to the whole scenario ty..

  3. Chantel R.

    This is the best explanation of the heart failures that I’ve read all year and you really just turned on the light bulb for me!! Thank you, your calling is really to teach and I thank you for your website!!

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