Congestive heart failure indicates that the power of the heart to pump blood throughout the body reduces drastically than normal and a person starts developing its symptoms. After observing any of the symptoms, the patient should immediately consult a doctor for further diagnosis, confirmation and treatment. During diagnosis, the doctor will carry out certain medical and physical examinations along with considering the risk factors and medical history of the patient. When treating this medical condition, the goals are to improve symptoms, treat the core causes of heart failure and increase the chances of prolonging the life of the patient. Certain changes in lifestyle (such as exercising, changing eating habits and quitting smoking) and medications (such as diuretics and beta-blockers) are initial forms of treatment. For patients with severe cardiac failure, cardiologists may suggest heart transplant or mechanical heart pump.
Congestive heart failure treatment proves significantly helpful to improve the symptoms and aid the weakened cardiac function as effectively as possible. Heart failure specialists treat some patients by correcting the inexplicit cause of their condition, for example, by controlling the fast or abnormal heart beats, repairing or opening clogged arteries or replacing diseased valves. Cardiologists also treat other medical conditions that may contribute in aggravating the underlying cardiac problems such as anemia, thyroid problems, sleep apnea and other blood related abnormalities.
Few health care centers have doctors or cardiologists that are well equipped with advanced training in cardiac failure to treat the congestive heart failure patients. They have vast experience in all types of surgery for treating various heart related diseases. Surgeons often perform heart transplants, implant ventricular assist devices and minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
Doctors have Certain Goals for Treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
While most victims with heart failure cannot be cured, changes in lifestyle and diet, medications and specialized treatment and care for those in advanced stages can often help to relieve symptoms and drastically enhance the quality of their lives. Specialized treatments can also prolong the life of a person by soothing the worsened condition to some extent. Since the causes of CHF vary for each person, the treatment options opted by the cardiologists may also differ.
The goals of CHF treatment are to:
- Improve the symptoms of a patient along with the quality of life
- Treat the core causes of heart failure
- Prolong the life of the victim
- Eliminate the causes and stop the condition from getting worse.
The doctor may also continue to treat other conditions or diseases that causes CHF (such as diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease).
What are the Options for Congestive Heart Failure Treatment?
Treatments for congestive cardiac failure may include medical devices, surgery, lifestyle changes and medications.
Biventricular Cardiac Heart Pacemaker: This can also be called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device. It sends electrical impulses to the lower chambers of the heart in a specific time. This device is used to treat the patients whose heart’s electrical conduction is abnormal or irregular and who have moderate to intense cardiac failure.
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD): This device is used for the patients whose weakened heart needs assistance in pumping blood. Surgeons implant VAD into the abdomen of the patient and connect it to the cardiac system. This can also be called mechanical cardiac pump that can be used as a bridge to cardiac transplant or as a permanent solution for patients who cannot undergo transplantation. VAD is suitable for most patients who are not left with any other treatment options.
Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD): Surgeons implant internal cardiac defibrillator under the skin to monitor the abnormal or fast rhythms (arrhythmias) in patients undergoing heart failure. This device sends electrical signals to the cardiac system; if it detects abnormal or high rhythm, it will transform the beats into slow and more effective pumping.
Heart Transplant: Some patients with completely damaged cardiac system have to choose this treatment option.
Coronary Bypass Surgery: According to the diagnosis, if severly narrowed coronary arteries are found to be the reason for heart failure, most heart specialist may suggest coronary bypass surgery.
Heart Valve Replacement or Repair: Replacement or repair of heart valve is recommended to treat the underlying symptoms that have caused heart failure. This surgery will not only help to relieve the symptoms, but will also improve the quality of the patient’s life.
Myectomy: In this therapy, the overgrown septal muscle in the cardiac system is removed to eliminate the clogging that occurs in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Myectomy is usually performed when medications fail to relieve the symptoms.
Heart care specialists often use medications that are proven to increase the chances of survival and prolong life and relieve symptoms. The heart specialist may also prescribe certain medications that help to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and prevent clogging in the arteries or blood thinners to dissolve clots or prevent clotting.
A number of drugs may aid to treat the heart’s inability to pump enough blood through the respective chambers.
- Beta Blockers: These drugs help to lower blood pressure, slow the heart beat and reduce the risk of abnormal or irregular rhythms of heart.
- ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors: These inhibitors improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and decrease the workload of the heart.
- Angiotensin II (A-II) Receptor Blockers (ARBs): A-II receptor blockers have several benefits as compared to the angiotensin converting enzyme without any potential side effects such as persistent cough. It is useful in lowering down the blood pressure and enhance the heart efficiency to pump blood. These drugs may also amend the survival chances of the pateint following a heart attack. Candesartian and valsartan are the common forms of ARBs.
- Diurectics: This drug is used to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the body and lessen the accumulated fluid in the lungs by making breathing easy.
- Inotropes: These medications are intravenous and are used for the patient with severe heart failure. Inotropes help to improve the pumping action of the heart and keep the blood pressure under control.
- Digoxin: This drug can also be called digitalis. It helps to elevate the heart’s contraction strength, tends to reduce the fast heartbeat and controls the irregular heartbeat.
- Aldosterone Antagonists: These drugs may help to repeal scarring of the heart, encourage the cardiac system to work better, and prolong the life of the patient even with severe condition.
- Nesiritide: This medication is intravenous (given through vein). Nesiritide is a synthetic form of BN (B-type natriuretic peptide), a hormone that is produced naturally in the human body.
In some cases, cardiac failure becomes so severe that the patient needs to be kept under observation in the hospital. During treatment, the patient may be given some medications that help the heart to relieve the symptoms and pump appropriately.
Doctors may also provide supplement oxygen. Patients with severe condition may require supplemental oxygen for a long time.
Doctors may ask the patient to make few changes in their lifestyle; this can help the patient in relieving symptoms and preventing the disease from worsening. The possible changes in the lifestyle may include:
- Cutting off the intake of excessive sodium and fat in diet
- Limiting or avoiding the intake of alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting or avoiding caffeine intake
- Losing extra pounds if the patient is overweight or maintaining the healthy weight
- Exercising according to the schedule structured by the cardiac rehabilitation program or by their own
- Reducing stress and thus the chances of high blood pressure.
A typical congestive heart failure treatment program may usually include all the above practices compositely. There may be a few changes in this program for each individual.