Common Causes of Heart Failures & Potential Treatment Errors

Our hearts are robust. They’ve been with us for our entire lives, beating and giving us the opportunity to live, work, and enjoy time with loved ones. But hearts can get sick, too.

Heart failure means a person’s heart no longer pumps as well as it should. Typically, heart failure does not mean immediate death. In fact, many individuals are able to make lifestyle adjustments, receive quality medical care, and live nearly a normal life after a diagnosis. Here, we want to discuss the most common causes of heart failure as well as potential issues that can arise with treatment, particularly errors made by medical professionals. If negligence plays a role in heart failure, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Portland.

Common Causes of Heart Failure – A Deeper Dive Into Contributing Factors

There are various factors that can contribute to heart failure, including cardiovascular conditions as well as conditions not necessarily related to cardiovascular health but that ultimately affect heart health eventually.

Cardiovascular Conditions Leading to Heart Failure

Heart failure often stems from other cardiovascular diseases, which damage or overwork the heart muscle. Notable conditions include:

  • Coronary artery disease. The most common cause of heart failure is when arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow, limiting blood flow and leading to heart attacks.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension). This condition forces the heart to work harder than normal, eventually weakening it.
  • Cardiomyopathy. Diseases of the heart muscle itself may arise from infections, alcohol abuse, or genetic predisposition.
  • Valve disorders. Malfunctioning heart valves can force the heart to pump harder, leading to failure.

Non-Cardiovascular Factors

Heart failure can also result from conditions not directly related to heart health, such as:

  • Diabetes. Increases the risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Obesity. Excess body weight strains the heart, potentially leading to heart failure.
  • Severe lung diseases. Diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can overburden the heart.
  • Sleep apnea. Interrupted breathing during sleep can stress the heart, increasing the risk of heart failure.

Most Common Medical Professional Mistakes When Treating Heart Failure

Doctors and other medical professionals can make a variety of mistakes when it comes to initially diagnosing and then treating heart failure. This is a dynamic disease, and the symptoms and treatment plans vary widely from person to person. Even though there are predictable measures and outcomes, there are still plenty of ways for mistakes to occur, even unintentionally. However, there are times when doctors fail to uphold the medical standard of care expected, and this can cause further patient harm that otherwise would not have happened.

Understanding the medical standard of care is challenging, as this is not a definition individuals deal with on a daily basis. The standard of medical care refers to the level and type of care that a reasonably competent healthcare professional who has a similar background (and located in the same medical community) would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice. This standard is not a one-size-fits-all situation. This varies depending on several factors, including the patient’s condition, the medical knowledge available at the time of treatment, and regional practices within the medical community.

Some of the most common medical professional mistakes that occur when treating heart failure include:

Overlooking Early Symptoms and Signs

One of the pivotal errors involves neglecting the early symptoms of heart failure. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and edema are often attributed to less severe conditions, delaying the accurate diagnosis and management of heart failure.

Inadequate Patient Education and Follow-Up

Effective management of heart failure requires comprehensive patient education on diet, medication adherence, and symptom monitoring. A lack of thorough patient education can lead to poor self-management, worsening the condition. Similarly, inadequate follow-up care can miss crucial signs of disease progression.

Mismanagement of Medications

Heart failure treatment involves a complex regimen of medications. Common mistakes include:

  • Inappropriate dosing. Either too low to be effective or too high, leading to adverse effects.
  • Failure to adjust therapy. Not updating the treatment plan as the condition progresses or in response to patient response.
  • Medicine risks. Not adequately managing the interactions between multiple medications can compromise treatment efficacy or endanger patient health.

Underuse of Evidence-Based Therapies

Despite clear guidelines, there is often an underutilization of therapies proven to improve survival and quality of life in heart failure patients. These include certain classes of medications, device therapies, and referral to heart failure management programs.

Disregarding Patient-Specific Factors

Treatment plans that fail to consider the patient’s overall health status, comorbid conditions, and personal preferences can lead to suboptimal care. Tailoring the treatment to the individual is crucial for managing heart failure effectively.

Determining Ineligibility for Advanced Treatment Options

Ultimately, heart failure patients have to have tough conversations about end-of-life care. There is no cure for heart failure. The goal, eventually, is to treat the symptoms to help manage a person’s quality of life. However, there are advanced treatment options available, including the use of a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) and even a potential heart transplant. Medical professionals and teams at facilities help make overall treatment decisions about how to move forward with heart failure patients, and if they determine they should not move forward with advanced treatment options prematurely, this could be considered medical malpractice.

Do You Need Help From an Attorney?

If you or a loved one have been harmed due to the misdiagnosis or mistreatment of heart failure in the Pacific Northwest area, we encourage you to reach out to a member of our team today. We have experienced medical malpractice lawyers who can help clients in Portland and throughout this area if they have been harmed due to the negligent actions of a medical provider.

Heart failure medical malpractice claims are challenging, and an attorney can get involved quickly to begin the investigation into the incident. An investigation includes not only reviewing medical records related to the incident, but also enlisting assistance from trusted medical professionals who can perform their own medical evaluations.

A successful medical malpractice claim can help bring victims and their families compensation for their losses. This can include coverage of all medical bills related to the medical malpractice, lost income if the victim can no longer work due to the mistake, out-of-pocket expenses, as well as pain and suffering damages.