Treatment Options for Heart Failure

Monday 27 September 2021
Cardiovascular Disorders
4 minute(s) read

Table of Contents


I. Common Treatments for Heart Failure

II. Heart Failure Medications in Detail

III. Surgical Options

IV. Palliative Care


Common Treatments for Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart muscle does not pump blood well anymore. Heart failure is typically caused by other conditions that weaken the heart or damage the arteries.

For example, atherosclerosis (narrowed arteries) can stiffen the heart’s ventricles and prevent the heart from filling properly between beats. High blood pressure, arrhythmias, HIV, and myocarditis may also cause heart failure.

Symptoms of heart failure often include chest pain, severe fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and foamy mucus. Heart failure is a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment.

The best way to prevent heart failure is to treat the underlying condition; Cozaar (losartan) is often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, and Lasix (furosemide) can be used to reduce fluid retention. If you already have heart failure, your doctor may prescribe Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) to manage symptoms. Read on to learn more about treatment options for heart failure. [1]

white and green pills on a purple background

Heart Failure Medications in Detail

You may want to seek emergency medical assistance if you experience the following:

  • Fainting
  • Severe weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Foamy mucus in cough
  • Coughing up pink or white mucus

If you are diagnosed with heart failure, it is important you take your prescribed medications as directed by your doctor. Heart failure medication can improve heart function, thereby prolonging life. [2] Below are several common medications used to treat heart failure.

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as Monopril (fosinopril) relieve the heart’s burden by lowering blood pressure. ACE inhibitors are able to lower blood pressure because they prevent blood vessels from narrowing, improving blood flow. [3]
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers like Cozaar (losartan) work similarly to ACE inhibitors. They relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and make it easier for the heart to pump blood. Angiotensin is a chemical that narrows the body’s blood vessels, so blocking this substance can promote circulation. [4]
  • Beta-blockers like Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) improve symptoms of heart failure by slowing down your heart rate to prevent it from overworking. Beta-blockers also work by preventing the heart from responding to adrenaline, a stress hormone that accelerates the heartbeat. According to many doctors, beta-blockers are one of the most effective medications for treating heart failure. [5]
  • Aldosterone antagonists such as Aldactone (spironolactone) are diuretic pills that treat high blood pressure and heart failure by helping the kidneys produce more urine. This flushes out excess salt from your system, easing the heart’s workload. [6]

surgeons performing a procedure

Surgical Options

The medications listed above are effective methods for preventing and treating heart failure, but surgical procedures may be required for severe cases of heart failure. Patients with serious arrhythmias may need to have an ICD implanted. ICD stands for implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a device that uses an electric shock to pace the heart when an abnormal rhythm is detected. Below are other surgical options for severe heart failure.

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): If the abnormal conduction of electricity is the cause of heart failure, CRT may be needed. CRT is also known as biventricular pacing and involves a special pacemaker that monitors the contraction of the heart.
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD): This device is a mechanical, battery-powered device surgically implanted to maintain the heart’s pumping ability. An LVAD works by pulling blood from the left ventricle and sending it into the aorta. This device may be used when a patient is awaiting a heart transplant to keep the weak heart pumping. In some patients, the LVAD may be used as a long-term treatment for patients who cannot have a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant: In severe cases when medications cannot help, a heart transplant may be the only option. During a heart transplant, the surgeon will replace the damaged heart with a healthy one from a donor. The match between the donor and the recipient must be close to increase the chance that the recipient’s body will accept the heart.
  • Angioplasty: Also known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), an angioplasty removes the blockages within the coronary arteries to improve heart function. This procedure involves inserting a catheter into the blocked artery. This catheter will have a small, deflated balloon attached at the end. Once the catheter is inside the affected artery, the balloon is inflated to expand the artery and resume blood flow.

palliative care

Other procedures, like a coronary artery bypass or a valve replacement, may be recommended based on your condition. Talk to your physician about surgical options if your heart failure is progressing. [7]

Palliative Care

If medication and surgical treatment options can no longer treat heart failure, palliative care may be needed. Palliative care provides specialized attention for improving quality of life for patients in the advanced stages of heart failure. Patients with advanced heart failure suffer from many symptoms that can cause significant mental and social distress. Palliative care can relieve some of this distress. [8] Talk to your doctor today to learn more about heart health.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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