The information contained in this website is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and TICR recommends consultation with your doctor or other health care professional if you have worries about your cardiovascular health.

Heart Failure

Your heart serves as an important organ that pumps blood to meet your body’s demand for blood and oxygen. Heart failure occurs when your heart muscle does not pump blood as well as it should.

What causes heart failure?

In Scotland, most heart failure cases are due to either narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure that may cause your heart to become stiff to fill and pump efficiently. Other potential causes include heart valve problems as well as an irregular heart rhythm.

Symptoms of heart failure

The common symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, tiredness and swollen ankles. Symptoms may only become noticeable when doing something active but can progress to being noticeable even at rest.


Diagnosis of heart failure will involve asking about the above symptoms and examination of the heart, lungs and legs (for swelling). Tests to help with the diagnosis include a chest X Ray, an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), blood tests and maybe an MRI.


It is unlikely for heart failure to be completely cured; it can depend on the reason for it occurring in the first place.

Heart failure treatment requires careful lifestyle modification (such as restriction of salt and sometimes water intake), monitoring of weight, taking the right drugs (such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, spironolactone, ivabradine and entresto) and prompt reporting of any changes in your symptoms. Exercise (sometimes involving cardiac rehabilitation) can also help with your heart failure.  All this can improve your quality of life and help make you live longer.

Author: Professor Chim Lang