Treatment For Congestive Heart Failure
Determining the right treatment for congestive heart failure requires an assessment of the patient’s medical history and the severity of their condition. Therefore, the course of treatment varies among patients. As with any condition involving the heart, a lifestyle change plays a significant role in recovering from congestive heart failure. Treatment for congestive heart failure usually involves some type of surgery, as well as the use of medical devices and medications. Surgery may be minor or more extensive depending on the degree of heart failure.
- Congestive heart failure may result from a faulty heart valve. Patients who have heart valves live with the risk of the valve becoming infected due to bacteria or as a result of an underlying condition. Replacing or repairing the damaged valve can relieve symptoms and prevent further heart damage.
- Coronary bypass is another treatment option. This type of surgery addresses the issue of severely narrowed arteries that may be a result of an underlying condition.
- Medical devices such as ventricular assist devices (VADs), biventricular cardiac pacemakers and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) are also used to treat heart failure. VADs are inserted into the abdomen and then attached to the heart to help the heart pump blood more efficiently. VADs are viable treatment options for patients who are not candidates for a heart transplant. Pacemakers help the heart beat at a normal rhythm by sending electrical impulses to its lower chambers so the right and left sides of the heart will beat in unison. ICDs work in a similar fashion to treat abnormal or fast heart rhythm.
- Various medications can treat heart failure. These include ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics and angiotensin II (A-II) receptor blockers, among other drugs that aid in improving heart function and reducing blood pressure and fluid buildup. Supplemental oxygen is also prescribed for patients with severe congestive heart failure symptoms that may require hospitalization.
- A heart transplant is often the only treatment option in cases of severe congestive heart failure. This option is considered when all other treatments have been exhausted with no improvement in the patient’s condition or life expectancy. Not every patient is a viable candidate for a heart transplant. Patients with a history of drug abuse or dependency would not be good candidates for a heart transplant.
- Lifestyle changes are not an option. Resuming a normal life after congestive heart failure is not possible without making some lifestyle changes. Eating a diet that is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium is good not only for the heart, but is a step toward achieving or maintaining a healthy body weight. Other heart-healthy lifestyle changes that benefits overall health is quitting smoking, cutting out or limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption and reducing stress.