Heart Failure-Treatment and medication
Dr. Sunil Dwivedi
Vasanth nagar, Bengaluru May 30, 2017
The treatment of heart failure is aimed at keeping the symptoms in check and preventing worsening of the condition. The treatment includes medication, lifestyle changes, and other treatments.
Your doctor will prescribe medications depending on your symptoms and results of your tests. Please take the medications as prescribed. Do not miss doses and do not self-medicate. If you feel the medication is not suiting you, please inform your doctor immediately.
The various medications prescribed for heart failure are:
- Water pills or diuretics: remove water from feet, ankles, legs, abdomen and lungs.
- Digoxin: improves heart's contraction.
- Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: lower blood pressure, reduces strain on your heart, reduce risk of heart attack.
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB): dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure to lower your heart's workload.
- Aldosterone antagonists: remove excess salt and water in the body through urine.
- Beta blockers: reduce heart rate and blood pressure to lower your heart's workload.
- Isosorbide dinitrate: dilates blood vessels to lower your heart's workload.
Simple lifestyle changes along with medications will help you dramatically improve your symptoms and lead a better quality of life.
A Heart Healthy Diet: You can ask the dietician in your heath care team to make customized diet plans for you. Otherwise you can follow these simple tips.
- Cut down or avoid refined flour and grains and solid or trans fat (butter, cream etc).
- Eat green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts, peas and beans
- Include some low fat or fat free dairy products
- Opt for lean cuts of meat/poultry, fish, sea food, eggs without yolk.
- Eat starchy vegetables and fruits in moderation.
- Keep salt intake to minimum. Avoid sprinkling salt on salads
- Eat at least one of the following every day to maintain your potassium levels: potato, sweet potato, banana, orange, nuts, beans etc every day.
Since you have excess fluid in your body and you may be on water pills, it is important to drink only as much fluid as allowed. Drinking too much or too less may worsen your symptoms. Avoid alcohol completely.
Other Lifestyle Changes
- Keep your blood sugar, thyroid hormones and blood pressure under control if you have these problems.
- If you are overweight or obese, lose weight. Please do not diet or exercise without discussing with your doctor. Your health care team will help you lose weight safely.
- Be as active as you are allowed. Ask your doctor about the level of physical activity allowed. Stop any activity that makes your tired or breathless and inform your doctor regarding this.
- You may be asked to weigh yourself daily while you are being treated. Also, whenever you see any swelling in feet, ankle, legs, or abdomen, please start weighing yourself every day, same time, wearing same type of clothes. Keep a record of your weight.
- Quit smoking or illegal drugs if you take them
- Get enough rest as advised.
- Apart from medications and life style changes you may need oxygen therapy from time to time, either at home or in hospital
- If condition worsens you may need an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to help your heart contract or a mechanical heart pump (left ventricular assist device).
- Heart Transplant if all treatments fail.