Congestive Heart Failure: What are the Treatments?

Congestive heart failure is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans and their families. People with congestive heart failure may find it difficult to do everyday activities like walking or carrying groceries because the body’s cells aren’t getting the oxygen and nutrient-rich blood they need.

What are some of the treatments for congestive heart failure? Ronak Patel, MD, with ProMedica Physicians Cardiology, says they are tailored to each person’s individual situation.

But before we talk about treatment, it’s good to know the causes of congestive heart failure.

“There are a number of causes,” says Dr. Patel. “High blood pressure and faulty heart valves can make the heart work harder to keep blood flowing properly. Coronary artery disease also causes the heart muscle to weaken because one or more of the arteries to the heart is partially or completely blocked.

Treatment of congestive heart failure depends on the cause and the severity of the condition. Here are a few typical options explained by Dr. Patel:

  • Surgery to repair or replace a defective valve or clear a blocked artery can improve or even cure heart failure in some patients.
  • Combination of medications to manage high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve blood flow, reduce heart rate and/or increase the frequency of urination.
  • Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising and quitting smoking can help lessen the symptoms of congestive heart failure and improve quality of life.

Dr. Patel says that patients with advanced and end-stage congestive heart failure may benefit from the following treatment options:

  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators implanted in the chest to monitor a patient’s heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm when the heart begins to beat dangerously fast or stops.
  • Biventricular pacemakers to send electrical impulses to the lower chambers of the heart so they pump more efficiently.
  • Ventricular assist devices implanted into the abdomen or chest to help the heart pump blood to the rest of the body
  • Heart transplantation

In addition to these treatments, patients with congestive heart failure may benefit from services offered by specialty clinics such as the Heart Failure Clinic at ProMedica Toledo and St. Luke’s Hospitals. These clinics help patients manage the symptoms that affect their daily lives — shortness of breath, weight gain, swollen legs and ankles, and fatigue.

Everyone’s experience with congestive heart failure is different. Knowing available options and treatments can make the difference in a person’s quality of life.

Click here to more about one man’s experience with heart failure and what he did to manage his condition.