Congestive Heart Failure
Alternate Names : Heart Failure, CHF, Left-Sided Heart Failure
What are the treatments for the condition?
Many medicines are used to treat CHF, including:
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Also known as ACE inhibitors, these medicines
improve the pumping action of the heart. Examples include enalapril, fosinopril, or lisinopril.
Digitalis. This type of medicine the heart muscles beat more strongly.
Diuretics. Also known as water pills, this type of medicine helps relieve the buildup of fluid in the tissues.
Examples include furosemide or triamterene-HCTZ.
The mixed alpha-beta adrenergic blocker, carvedilol. This newer medicine has been shown to have
a positive effect on heart failure.
In August 2001, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for severe
CHF. Implantable cardiac resynchronization uses a device that stimulates the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of
the heart. The device controls the beating of the ventricles so that they beat at the same time.
Blood is pumped more efficiently. That helps reduce the effects of CHF.
A left ventricular assist device, called an LVAD, may be used in severe cases of CHF. An
LVAD is a small pump that helps the left ventricle pump more blood through the body. It is generally used to
support a person until a heart transplant can be
performed. For some people, a heart transplant is the only treatment that can cure the CHF.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects vary with the medicines used:
Diuretics can cause dehydration
and salt imbalance.
ACE inhibitors can cause a chronic dry cough.
Too much digitalis can cause serious side effects. These may include vomiting
and visual impairment.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Most people with CHF will benefit if they exercise regularly. Every effort should also be made
to reduce his or her coronary risk factors.
These actions may include:
starting a quit smoking program
keeping other diseases and conditions such as diabetes
and high blood pressure under good control
eating a heart healthy diet
The doctor may need to adjust medicines until the person achieves the best response.
How is the condition monitored?
Periodic exams, blood tests, and imaging studies such as echocardiography
are done to monitor CHF. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.