Heart failure is different in every patient - the parts of the heart affected and the symptoms can vary widely. For this reason, your doctor may use several different terms for describing your heart failure.

The two main types of heart failure are chronic heart failure and acute heart failure .

Chronic heart failure is more common and symptoms appear slowly over time and worsen gradually.

Acute heart failure develops suddenly and symptoms are initially severe. Acute heart failure either follows a heart attack that has caused damage to an area of your heart or, more frequently, is caused by a sudden lack of ability by the body to compensate for chronic heart failure.

If you develop acute heart failure, it may be severe initially but may only last for a brief time and improve rapidly. It usually requires therapy and administration of medication by injection (intravenously).

There is another type of heart failure: Heart failure of the right ventricle.

Heart failure usually results from damage to the main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, which supplies the body with blood. This may be due to muscle injury such as a heart attack or damage to the valves in the left side of the heart.

This causes congestion in the lungs and shortness of breath.
Sometimes, heart failure mainly affects the right ventricle which pumps blood to the lungs. This may be due to muscle injury, such as a heart attack localised to the right ventricle or damage to the valves in the right side of the heart.

This may cause congestion in the liver, intestines and fluid accumulation in the lower limbs.

Heart failure on both sides of the heart may be caused or worsened by irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, which is usually a rapid and irregular heart rate that may prevent proper filling of the ventricles.