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Differences Between Right- and Left-Sided Heart Failure

Right- vs Left-Sided Heart Failure

Our heart is probably one of the most hard-working parts of our body. This is why ensuring that one gets enough exercise is not just all about maintaining a good figure, but it is essentially about helping and exercising your heart, so it would be able to pump blood that is needed by your body. To make it clearer, let’s talk about our heart and how failure on either the right or left would be serious, and later on, fatal, if you don’t take care of your heart.

Our heart is made up of four chambers, two on the right and two on the left. Upper chambers are the atria and the atrium. The lower chambers are the ventricles. Each side of the heart has its own function and when we describe them into detail here, you will realize that there are more to the workings of our heart than just pumping blood and falling in love. How it works is that the right side of the heart would receive blood from the body, specifically from the lungs. It would temporarily hold oxygen-depleted blood. As soon as the ‘tank’ is full, the heart’s right ventricle would pump the blood back to the lungs. As soon as the blood drops off carbon dioxide, it will pick up fresh oxygen and then send it to the left side of the heart.

What happens when there is a left side failure?

The left side of the heart receives blood that is rich in oxygen from the lungs. From the lungs, it goes to the left atrium, then to the left ventricle. From there, it pumps it to the rest of the body. The left ventricle does most of the heart’s pumping power, which is why the left chamber is larger than the others. Should there be a left side failure, this means that the heart does not have enough power and pressure to pump the blood back to the body. This is what you call systolic failure. Diastolic failure is if the left ventricle cannot relax between heartbeats, which means the heart cannot fill properly. In other words, if there is a left side failure, the output from the left side is less and blood from the lungs is backed up.

What happens where there is a right side failure?

The right atrium gets ‘used’ blood coming from the heart, through the veins, going through the right ventricle. From the right ventricle, it pumps the blood back out of the heart to the lungs, so oxygen will be replenished. If there is a right side failure, it is usually because of the failure from the left side of the heart. If the left ventricle fails, it transfers the blood back to the lungs because the pressure is increased. This would then damage the right side of the heart. If pumping power is lost, it would damage the right side.


Our heart performs one of the major functions in our body. If there should be any part of the heart that would fail or malfunction, it would immediately ‘stir’ the body through swelling or other ways. Left-side failure would back up the blood back to the lungs, giving more pressure to the right side of the heart.

Oxygen is quite important, and if there is no proper exercise that would allow the heart to properly pump blood from the lungs, with oxygen, back to the different parts of the body, damage is bound to happen, to either parts of the heart.

The heart has to make sure that the blood flowing out has just the right amount of pressure; if not, there would be several problems, like congestion in the body’s tissue, should the pressure lessen and the blood is backed up. Not only is swelling going to be an indication, but other parts of the body would also be affected.

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  1. A terribly written piece of work. Why not describe the circulation as follows.Oxygenated blood passes from lungs to the left atrium, and thence the left ventricle, which is big and powerful enough to send the blood all around the body. It returns to the right side of the heart depleted in oxygen, enters the right atrium and then the ventricle on the right side, which sends the blood to the lungs to get fresh oxygen.
    Failure on the left side causes congestion to back up in the circulation from the lungs , and means less blood is pumped out to the body. The back pressure can damage the lungs and even the right side of the heart. Failure on the right side then follows.
    If the right side of the heart has a failure in the first place , this would mean inadequate blood flow to the lungs.
    Failure of either side, or both , results in breathlessness and perhaps cyanosis [ blueness] of the lips and pallor in mucous membranes of the eyelids.

  2. lets see the difference..
    the right side will eventually KILL YOU…
    the left side will merely…. KILL YOU…
    see a doctor

    doc johnny

  3. I’m still left asking – what is the key difference between left and right sided heart failure in terms of symptoms? Is there a way to distinguish one from the other quickly and reliably by way of symptoms?
    Next, please explain if one is worse than the other. Is one signalling a greater medical emergency?
    Why is it so hard to get a straight answer to these questions? Are they the wrong questions to be asking or something?
    I still say, if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t understand it.

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