Heart failure can often be successfully treated through the continuum of care ranging from medical therapies to heart transplanation.
Most people with heart failure (systolic dysfunction) take ACE inhibitors and diuretics, digoxin and beta blockers.
- ACE Inhibitors prevent the production of a substance that causes blood vessels to tighten and raises blood pressure. As a result, blood pressure drops and the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood. They also directly improve the function of the heart.
- Diuretics help reduce the amount of fluid in the body and are useful for patients with fluid retention and hypertension.
- Digoxin increases the force of the heart's contractions, which helps to improve circulation.
- Beta blockers block the action of adrenaline, which the body produces under stress. The drugs reduce demand on the heart, slow the heart rate and prevent irregular heartbeats.
- Spironolactone has been shown to improve survival in patients with advanced heart failure.
- Biventricular Pacing (Resynchronization Therapy): At the Maryland Heart Center, a new type of pacemaker is available for some patients, which is used to help the heart pump more efficiently. Pacemakers are implanted, providing the ability to pace the heart in special ways to help allevitate heart failure.
- Intracardiac Defibrillators (ICD): Experts at the Maryland Heart Center have extensive experience placing defibrillators to prevent sudden death in patients with irregular heart rhythm.
- Mitral Valve Surgery
A heart transplant may also be considered in the most serious cases. In general, patients with advanced heart failure who continue to have severe symptoms and who are on maximal medical therapy should be considered for transplant evaluation. For more information on our heart transplant program, click here.
Other treatment of heart failure may include rest, proper diet, and modified daily activities Weight loss may be recommended. Patients should also eliminate smoking and alcohol consumption, because both decrease the pumping efficiency of the heart.
The physicians and care provider team at the Maryland Heart Center actively communicate with patients regarding staging and the various treatment options.