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How to Treat Heart Failure

Updated: Friday, Aug 19,2011, 5:14:25 PM
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The cause of heart failure is often treatable. It must therefore be addressed immediately. For example, repairing or replacing a heart valve can stop heart failure.

When the cause is not treatable, treatment aims at relieving the symptoms. It is quite possible to regain a good quality of life and slow the progression of the disease. With new treatments, it is sometimes possible to roll back the disease. Importantly, if the disease is diagnosed earlier, the treatment is more effective. Unfortunately, it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Drugs For Heart Failure

Most people need to take medication to control their symptoms. Often, three or four types of drugs are combined to achieve optimal results. Their work is complementary: some, for example, help to strengthen the heart, others to reduce water retention.


Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Their vasodilatory action (which increases the opening of the arteries) has the effect of lowering blood pressure and reduce the effort required by the heart. In addition, they reduce water retention and salt by the kidneys. ACE inhibitors prevent the formation of angiotensin II, a vasoconstrictor substance (which reduces the opening of the arteries) which increases blood pressure. These drugs cause an irritating cough in about 10% of its users. Examples include lisinopril, enalapril and captopril.


Angiotensin II receptor anatagonists. These drugs block the vasoconstrictor effect of angiotensin II by preventing it from binding to its site of action. Their effect is similar to that of ACE inhibitors. Examples include losartan and valsartan.


Beta-blockers. These drugs are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure (eg, carvedilol and metoprolol). They reduce the rate of heart beats and enable a better contraction of the heart muscles.


Diuretics. Primarily used to treat hypertension, diuretics increase urine volume. They help to remove excess fluid that accumulates in the lungs or in the limbs. The most commonly used ones are furosemide and bumetanide. These diuretics cause the loss of minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Supplementation is therefore warranted in some cases, depending on the results of blood tests.


Aldosterone antagonists. This type of drug has a diuretic effect, but does not cause loss of potassium (potassium-sparing diuretic). They regulate the heartbeat. Spironolactone is an example. Aldosterone is a substance produced by the adrenal glands which increases blood pressure. This type of drug is particularly effective in cases of severe heart failure.


Digoxin. Its tonic effect on the heart provides more effective cardiac contractions. It changes the ion exchange in cardiac muscle cells. In addition, it slows and regulates the heartbeat..

Lifestyle Changes and Heart Failure

Improving physical fitness is part of the therapeutic approach for managing heart failure. It plays an important role. Anything that reduces cardiac stress has a beneficial effect:

    Weight loss,

    Consuming  foods that are neither too salty nor too oily

    Less frequent consumption of red meat,

    Regular physical exercise

    Ways to be less stressed

Heart Transplant

Heart transplantation is sometimes considered, especially in people aged under 65 given the scarcity of organ donors.

Tags: Heart-Failure

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