How Is Right & Left Heart Disease Different?

This information was reviewed by Andrew Freeman, MD, and M. Patricia George, MD. (February 2022).

 

How Is Right & Left Heart Disease Different?

How the Heart Works

Two hearts in one, working together in a continuous loop:

  • A pump on the right.
  • A pump on the left.
  • An electrical system keeps your heart beating in a normal rhythm.


The right side of the heart picks up the oxygen-poor blood from the body and moves it to the lungs for cleaning and re-oxygenating.

The left side of the heart moves the re-oxygenated blood throughout the body so that every part receives the oxygen it needs.

 

What's the Difference?

Right-Sided Heart Disease (less common)

  • High blood pressure in the lungs
  • Blood clots in the lungs
  • Infections
  • Left-sided heart failure
  • Chronic lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema 

Right-sided heart disease increases pressure in the lungs and is a common cause of pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs).

 

Left-Sided Heart Disease (most common)

  • Coronary or heart artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart attack
  • Long-term high blood pressure

Left-sided heart disease decreases the ability to pump blood to the lungs for reoxygenation – making the blood back up in the veins and the legs, ankles and abdomen to swell.

 

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Right-Sided Heart Disease

  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness, passing out with exertion

 

Left-Sided Heart Disease

  • Shortness of breath with exercise or when lying down
  • Sudden shortness of breath during sleep that wakes you

 

Both Right and Left Heart Disease

  • Shortness of breath with exercise
  • Palpitations
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Swelling (abdomen, legs)
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, confusion

 

You Can Prevent Heart Disease

  • Quit smoking & avoid secondhand smoke
  • Keep other health conditions well managed
  • Do aerobic exercise and strength training daily
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, seeds & lean protein
  • Limit bad fats, sodium, sugar & fatty proteins
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce and manage stress
  • Get a good night’s sleep

 

Heart Disease Facts

  • Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S.
  • About 50% of Americans have a form of heart disease
  • Most heart attacks happen on Monday
  • Women develop pulmonary arterial hypertension 2-3 times more often than men
  • 23.5 million people have sleep apnea, a cause of heart disease
  • 80% of heart disease and stroke are preventable
  • A person dies of heart disease every 36 seconds in the U.S.


Call 9-1-1 immediately when you are experiencing heart disease symptoms.

More Information on Heart Disease

 

Want to use this on your website? Fill out the content usage request form and then copy this code: