"Multiple heart failure" can be defined in terms of the number of times someone goes to the hospital. About a third of people admitted to the hospital for heart failure are re-admitted within three months, and half of these re-admissions are avoidable, according to the American College of Cardiology's Washington chapter. Reasons someone might go to the hospital multiple times include failure to take medication as prescribed, failure to change diet as prescribed (especially cutting sodium intake) and failure to stop smoking.
Heart failure can be either right-sided, left-sided or combined. Right-side heart failure means the heart can't get the blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, and left-side heart failure means the heart can't pump the blood to the rest of the body. Most people suffer from combined failure, and this can be called "multiple heart failure" because it involves multiple sides of the heart. There are different symptoms that accompany each kind of failure; for example right-side heart failure usually causes swelling in the lower half of the body (legs, ankles, abdomen, etc.), according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The term "multiple heart failure" can also be used in situations where there is more than one cause for the heart's weakness. A few problems known to cause heart failure are: heart disease, drug abuse, infections of the heart muscle, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism, heredity and a diet that contains too much sodium, according to Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
Multiple genes are linked to heart function. If a person has inherited the right combination of DNA, they can have several different genes contributing to their heart failure all at once. This might be misunderstood as "multiple heart failure."
Being clear with medical terms is important when defining heart failure. Heart failure may be associated with one or more conditions that are classified as "multiple." For example, a type of cancer known as multiple myeloma affects the blood and bone marrow in the body, and it causes amyloids (hard protein buildup) on heart muscle that prevents the heart from pumping correctly. This does not make the heart failure itself a "multiple heart failure." Likewise, the term "multiple organ failure" is not "multiple heart failure." Multiple organ failure is a situation where more than one organ in the body is considered damaged. While heart failure can be one symptom of this, the term is actually to describe multiple organs having problems at the same time.