3 Ways To Manage Heart Failure

Posted on: 5 April 2018

Heart failure is one of several specific conditions that occur when the heart begins to weaken and may not pump blood effectively. It can be caused when the right or left side of the heart is not working properly or when fluid begins backing up (congestive heart failure). Although there is no cure, there are several approaches to managing the condition, depending on the severity.

Lifestyle Changes

No matter the severity of heart failure or the specific type, if there are lifestyle factors you can change, it important to make changes that can slow the decline of your heart. The most obvious lifestyle changing is quitting smoking if you do smoke. You can speak with your doctor about the best method to use, especially with heart failure. If possible, quitting cold-turkey might be a better option than using medications or nicotine replacements. Losing excess weight is also important, but you will need a medically-supervised plan. You might have limitations on the type of exercise you can perform safely, especially if you have shortness of breath and/or an arrhythmia. Your doctors will want you to adopt a low or no-sodium diet to minimize fluid retention. Keeping your diet focused on whole-foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and less-refined grains can also help you lose weight, while eating heart-healthy.

Prescription Medications

The medications used to manage heart failure are often similar to those used to treat hypertension. Your doctor will likely prescribe one or more anti-hypertensive medications, such as beta-blockers and/or ACE-inhibitors. These medications can keep your blood pressure at a safer level, when effective. A lower blood pressure places less stress on your heart and blood vessels, especially when your heart is already struggling to keep pace. Usually these medications are combined with a diuretic, which can also reduce blood pressure and will help you rid excess fluid. A common sign of heart problems is pitting edema, which is when a body part (usually the feet and ankles) swell and you can press the area, leaving an indentation. In advanced cases of heart failure, your doctor might also want you on oxygen therapy.

Surgical Procedures

The only way to truly fix heart failure is with a heart transplant. Some people are not candidates for the procedure and for those who are candidates, they may have to wait on the transplant list for many years. For people with heart failure that develop an arrhythmia, an implanted defibrillator might be a good option. The device is inserted into the chest and can detect abnormal heart rhythms. When an arrhythmia is detected, the defibrillator shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm automatically. Another type of surgery involves a different type of implantable device, which mimics the function of the left ventricle. The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps pump blood to the aorta and the rest of the body. Generally, the LVAD is used either as a long-term option or to help keep a person healthy enough for a future heart transplant.

Although heart failure is a life-altering diagnosis, depending on the severity of the condition, it is possible to have a good quality of life with treatment. The quicker the condition is diagnosed, the more treatment options may be available. For more information, contact a company like Temecula Valley Cardiology.