Your treatment for heart failure depends on:
- The cause of your heart failure.
- Which Reference type of heart failure you have.
- How bad your symptoms are (Reference classification).
- How well your body is able to make up (compensate) for your heart failure.
In the early stages of heart failure, treatment can help your symptoms. It may also prevent more damage to your heart. Treatment may include:
- Taking medicines, such as a Reference diuretic and an Reference ACE inhibitor. To learn more, see Reference Medications.
- Making lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt and being more active. To learn more, see Reference Living With Heart Failure.
As part of your ongoing treatment, your doctor will also try to prevent or treat problems—such as fever, Reference arrhythmia Opens New Window, and Reference anemia Opens New Window—that can lead to Reference sudden heart failure Opens New Window. Treatment may include:
- Getting vaccines. Your doctor may want you to get vaccines against Reference pneumonia Opens New Window and Reference flu Opens New Window. These vaccines can keep you from getting infections that could put you in the hospital.
- Checking your weight. Your doctor will probably give you guidelines for watching fluid buildup and tell you how much weight gain is too much.
- Getting devices to fix heart rhythm problems. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a Reference biventricular pacemaker that is placed in your chest to keep your heart beating at a normal rhythm. This is also called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Or you may have an Reference implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to stop a deadly rhythm. Some people get a pacemaker that is combined with an ICD.
- Oxygen treatment. Your doctor may recommend Reference oxygen therapy to reduce your shortness of breath and increase your ability to exercise.
You might take part in a Reference disease management program. These programs include a broad range of services, such as education, home health care, visiting nurses, and rehabilitation.
A very small number of people may have other treatments, including:
- Reference Ventricular assist devices (VADs), which help the heart pump blood.
- Reference Heart transplant, which replaces your heart with a donor heart.
Treatment for causes of heart failure
If you have other heart problems that may have led to heart failure, you might have treatment for those problems:
- Reference Coronary artery bypass surgery Opens New Window or Reference angioplasty Opens New Window.
- Surgery to replace or repair a valve in your heart.
- Cardiac rehabilitation, a supervised program that uses exercise, education, and support to help people recover from heart problems. For more information, see the topic Reference Cardiac Rehabilitation.
Sometimes heart failure can be fixed if another problem can be corrected, such as by treating Reference hyperthyroidism Opens New Window.
Because heart failure tends to get worse over time, it's important to think about what kind of care you would like at the end of your life. It's also important that your doctor and family know what you want.
An advance directive is a legal document that tells doctors how to care for you at the end of your life. To learn more, see Reference End-of-Life Decisions.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Reference Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
- Topic Overview
- Health Tools
- What Increases Your Risk
- When to Call a Doctor
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment Overview
- Living With Heart Failure
- Coping With Your Feelings
- Other Treatment
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information