Treatment for heart failure often depends on the type and severity of the condition. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about treatment options for heart failure?
Of course, Dr. Mansfield. The goals of treatment for all stages of heart failure include:
- Treating the underlying cause of the condition, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, or diabetes
- Reducing symptoms of heart failure
- Keeping heart failure from getting worse, and
- Increasing lifespan and improving quality of life
Treatment usually begins with heart-healthy lifestyle changes. These changes may include eating a heart-healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking.
Medications may be prescribed based on the type and severity of heart failure. Commonly prescribed medications for heart failure include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors, which lower blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart
- Aldosterone antagonists, which trigger the body to remove excess sodium through urine
- Angiotensin receptor blockers, which relax the blood vessels to lower blood pressure
- Beta blockers, which slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure
- Digoxin, which makes the heart beat stronger and pump more blood
- Diuretics, which help reduce fluid buildup in the lungs and swelling in the feet and ankles, and
- Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride, which helps relax blood vessels so that the heart doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood
As heart failure worsens, lifestyle changes and medications may not sufficiently control symptoms. A medical procedure or surgery may be necessary. In some cases, a type of pacemaker called a cardiac resynchronization therapy device may be implanted to help both sides of the heart contract at the same time. People who have severe heart failure, even at rest, may need a mechanical heart pump or a heart transplant.