Recognizing the Symptoms of a Weak Heart - Healing Practice

Risk of heart failure in women

Heart failure (heart failure) is one of the most common causes of death in this country. Up to four million people in Germany have a weak heart. Female hearts differ from male hearts in size and pumping ability. An expert explains what leads to heart failure in women.

Heart failure in women is an often overlooked problem. In Germany, women make up about half of all those affected and about a third more women than men die from it, the German Heart Foundation reports in an older statement. A cardiologist explains what makes women's hearts vulnerable.

Consequences for the whole body

If the pumping power of the heart decreases, this has consequences for the whole body. Organs such as the brain, liver, kidneys and muscles are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, explains a current press release from the German Heart Foundation.

Cardiologists distinguish between different forms of heart failure (medical: heart failure). In heart failure with reduced pumping function (systolic heart failure), the organ no longer pumps powerfully enough.

In heart failure with preserved pumping function, the heart still pumps vigorously, but it no longer fills with enough blood because the tissue is no longer elastic enough. This is called diastolic heart failure.

Differences between female and male hearts

"Women are more likely to suffer from diastolic heart failure, i.e. a disturbance of the elasticity and therefore of the filling of the heart", explains cardiologist Pr Dr. Christiane Tiefenbacher, member of the board of directors of the German Heart Foundation. This is due to the differences between female and male hearts in terms of size and pumping ability.

This results in heart failure. According to the expert, women generally have a slightly stiffer and smaller heart than men. The organ is less able to stretch and fill with blood. This is compensated by a higher pump power.

As women age, this anatomical fact becomes more important: the size of the heart decreases with age. During menopause, the reduced production of estrogen not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the formation of connective tissue in the heart and the heart continues to lose its elasticity.

Often the result of a heart attack

There are other influencing factors that promote heart failure in women: "High blood pressure, obesity and diabetes mellitus in particular have a negative effect on the elasticity of heart tissue and are therefore factors high risk of heart failure in women. , their effects are potentiated”, explains Prof. Dr. Tiefenbacher.

The factors mentioned are also critical with regard to the risk of infarction. “Heart failure is often the result of a heart attack. In the event of a heart infarction, the heart tissue dies and scarring occurs, which limits the performance of the heart,” explains the chief cardiology doctor at Marien-Hospital Wesel.

Early symptoms of heart failure

Heart failure usually develops gradually - and therefore often remains undetected for a long time. Symptoms are often mistakenly considered signs of aging.

“Women need to be vigilant. Shortness of breath, reduced performance and exhaustion are the first symptoms of heart failure. Water retention, called edema, also often causes the feet to swell,” explains the Heart Foundation expert. Daily activities such as climbing stairs, shopping or riding a bike become more strenuous.

Important to know: Sudden onset of symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, physical weakness, trouble sleeping, or occasional back and abdominal pain may indicate a heart attack in women. Typical chest pain is often absent or less pronounced.

One of the most common causes of death

As the current communication says, heart failure is a serious and insidious disease that usually manifests itself with unspectacular symptoms and progressively with shortness of breath, reduced performance and fluid retention, for example in the lower legs ( swollen legs, ankle oedema) .

This carries the risk of older people attributing their symptoms to their age and simply accepting them instead of going to the doctor. Chronic heart failure absolutely must be treated.

In Germany, heart failure is one of the most common causes of death and is a more common cause of death than cancer. Up to four million people in this country have weak hearts. The risk of disease increases with age. More than 40,000 people die each year from this disease.

"Anyone with shortness of breath should have a doctor determine if heart disease, such as heart failure, is the cause," Professor Tiefenbacher recommends. "The earlier a diseased heart is recognized and treated, the easier it is to reverse its deterioration." (add)

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


German Heart Foundation: Risk of Heart Failure in Women, (Accessed: July 2, 2022), German Heart Foundation German Heart Foundation

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.