Congestive Heart Failure: Causes Make an Appointment Refer a Patient Ask a Question Reviewed by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (December 01, 2012) Congestive heart failure is primarily caused by other conditions that damage the heart, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Over time, these conditions weaken the heart and make its job more difficult. Other conditions that can cause congestive heart failure include heart muscle disease, heart valve disorders, and congenital heart defects. These conditions can also make the heart's job more difficult and can be present at birth. Alcohol abuse, illegal drugs, and excess vitamin E can also place strain on the heart and contribute to heart failure. Cancer treatments, thyroid disorders, and HIV/AIDS can also be contributing factors. The sleeping disorder obstructive sleep apnea can also place excess stress on the heart. With obstructive sleep apnea, a person's breathing stops while sleeping, which can lead to less oxygen being delivered to the heart. Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can help prevent congestive heart failure. Congestive Heart Failure: Symptoms Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.