What is Systolic Heart Failure

What is Systolic Heart Failure

What is Systolic Heart Failure

Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart’s lower chambers, known as ventricles, weaken and are unable to contract effectively to pump out sufficient blood to meet the body’s demands. This condition often leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath and other signs of heart failure. Elderly women, as well as individuals with a history of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, or diabetes, are at greater risk of developing systolic heart failure.

What is Systolic Heart Failure


Systolic heart failure often arises from conditions that impair the heart muscle’s ability to effectively pump blood. Common causes include coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) restricts blood flow through narrowed vessels, leading to damage to the heart muscle, which in turn affects its ability to contract and pump blood effectively.

High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood against increased arterial pressure. Over time, this can diminish the heart muscle’s efficiency in contracting and pumping blood.

Diabetes contributes to heart failure by damaging the heart muscle and promoting the development of CAD and high blood pressure. According to hearthealthywomen.org, women with diabetes are four times more likely than diabetic men to develop systolic heart failure.

In many cases, there may be multiple factors contributing to systolic heart failure, as various conditions often interact to gradually diminish the heart’s pumping capacity.


While the symptoms of systolic and diastolic heart failure may appear similar, there are distinct differences between these two forms of heart failure. In systolic heart failure, the heart pumps less-than-normal amounts of blood out with each heartbeat. This can lead to symptoms such as swollen ankles, elevated pressure in the jugular veins on each side of the neck, and shortness of breath.



Systolic heart failure is often diagnosed by assessing the ejection fraction, which is typically conducted using Doppler echocardiography. Additionally, measurements of ejection fraction can be obtained through procedures such as nuclear ventriculography or cardiac MRI.


The treatment approach for systolic heart failure focuses on alleviating symptoms, slowing disease progression, and enhancing quality of life. Typically, a combination of three classes of medications is prescribed: a diuretic, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), and a beta-blocker.

A diuretic aids in reducing fluid retention in the lungs and extremities, while an ACE inhibitor helps lower blood pressure and alleviate symptoms. Meanwhile, a beta-blocker works to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, thereby impeding the advancement of heart failure.

In many cases, the combination of these medications can stabilize and even improve heart function. However, some patients may require surgical interventions to address heart damage and manage irregular heart rhythms.