Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure will affect nearly 20 percent of Americans during their lifetime. It has many different causes and can be exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyle habits. Congestive heart failure can seriously damage the heart muscle and other organs as blood flow to the organs and other part of the body is reduced and compromised. Treatment for congestive heart failure generally focuses on treating the underlying condition causing the failure, relieving and reducing the symptoms of congestive heart failure and strengthening or improving the function of the heart. Congestive heart failure treatment involves a combination of medication, surgical treatment if needed, and ongoing lifestyle changes. Alternative therapies also offer some treatment for congestive heart failure.

Drug Treatment

Medications used as treatment for congestive heart failure may help control the underlying cause of the condition, the symptoms or both. They are commonly the most critical part of the recommended therapy and treatment for congestive heart failure. Most people with congestive heart failure will take a combination of drugs that work on the problem in different ways. They include:

* Diuretics: to remove excess salt and water from the body and reduce the amount of work the heart has to do

* Digoxin: an antiarrhythmic that helps control the rate of the heart and reduce atrial fibrillation. It is not prescribed as often as it used to be.

* Vasodilators: enlarge the arteries to lower the blood pressure and reduce the work the heart has to do to pump blood. The vasodilators prescribed may include ACEs, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, nitrates and smooth muscle dilators.

* Beta blockers: to improve the systolic function of the left ventricle

* Inotropes: stimulants that increase the pumping ability of the heart

Surgical Treatment

If necessary, there are a number of surgical procedures and devices that are used as treatment for congestive heart failure. They include:

* Angioplasty: to open or widen arteries in or out of the heart to allow for better blood flow

* Pacemaker: can be inserted to help control the heart rate and rhythm

* Implantable cardioverter defibrillator: an internal defibrillator to shock the heart back into rhythm during serious arrhythmia

* Temporary cardiac support: such as intra-aortic balloon pumps to help the heart pump blood while waiting for more permanent solution

* Valve replacement surgery: to repair malfunctioning heart valves

* Coronary artery bypass graft: can help circumvent blockages

* Heart transplant: in cases where the heart’s ability to pump blood has been permanently impaired, heart transplant may be an option, but candidates for heart transplant are chosen carefully.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Diet and lifestyle changes are a vital part of treatment for congestive heart failure. Recommendations from the doctor generally include daily weigh-ins, reduced salt diet, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, exercising regularly and managing high blood pressure and diabetes.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative treatment for congestive heart failure includes dietary supplements, such as magnesium, carnitine, creatine and vitamin B2, and herbs, such as hawthorn and goldenseal.

Stem Cell Therapy for Congestive Heart Failure

Stem cell therapy is a promising new treatment for congestive heart failure. The ability of stem cells to effect repairs and stimulate the production of new cells offers new hope for patients who believed that their hearts were irretrievably damaged. Recent studies have shown marked improvements and reversal of heart damage after injections with cardiac stem cells. Research continues with clinical studies ongoing to determine the timing and method of delivery that works best to deliver stem cells to the heart.