Heart Failure - Treatment

Mar 24, 2012 , Translated by Kristina Knazko

srdecni-selhani-lecba.jpg - kopie
srdecni-selhani-lecba.jpg - kopie
Heart failure is an illness where the heart is no longer able to perform its basic function – pump blood into the body. Treatment of heart failure is focused on supporting heart function and eliminating the cause. Correct treatment for heart failure – whether by medication or surgery – is always decided by a doctor.

Treatment of Heart Failure

Heart failure means the heart is no longer able to perform its function as a pump. This results in the symptoms and consequences of the illness. Heart failure typically affects older individuals, regardless of sex, and the reason is due to existing diseases of the heart or blood vessels. Most often these include ischemic diseases of the heart, valvular defects or cardiomyopathy. Causes can also include disease of the coronary arteries supplying blood directly to the heart, such as atherosclerosis. If a human heart is failing, its manifestations depend largely on which ventricle is affected. At the beginning of the illness, symptoms appear solely during physical activity.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Symptoms of heart failure depend on which part of the heart, more specifically which ventricle, is losing its function. If the left ventricle is affected, blood can flow back into the right atrium and venous system. As a result, swelling of the lower limbs and swelling of the liver, manifested by pain under the right ribcage, can develop due to the accumulation of blood. Digestive problems can occur as well. If the left ventricle is failing, blood begins to accumulate in the pulmonary veins, leading to swelling of the lungs; manifested by shortness of breath, especially at night when the patient is laying horizontally. These patients are often awakened and find that the discomfort is relieved when in a half-sitting position. In the case of left sided heart failure, the volume of blood that the heart is able to pump into the body is reduced. Heart failure can occur suddenly, such as during myocardial infarction (heart attack), or as a chronic process over number of years.

Treating Heart Failure

Heart failure is an illness that requires treatment. Due to the wide spectrum of diseases that can lead to this condition, there is a whole host of options and methods to treat heart failure. The choices include regimental treatment, pharmacotherapy or surgical treatment.

Regimental Treatment

Regimental and dietary modifications are an absolutely essential part of the treatment of heart failure. It is necessary to reduce fat and salt intake. This is done by following a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding fried foods and choosing steamed foods instead. An intake of at least 500g of vegetables per day is recommended, divided into a number of servings. Meals should not be salted. Physical activity should also be included, according to the individual's options. It is also important to abstain from alcohol.

Pharmacotherapy for Heart Failure

Since there is a large number of disorders and illnesses that can lead to acute or chronic heart failure, a large number of various treatment methods are available as well. An important option is the method of administration of the drug. Medications of a variety of groups exist that differ from each other not only in the method treatment but also in the method of administration. Diuretics can be administered whose role is based on increasing urine output. This helps the body get rid of excess water stored in swollen areas. Other medications include beta-blockers, which lower heart rate and force of contractions, thereby preventing heart failure. Antihypertensive drugs are also used to lower blood pressure, and anti-platelet agents to reduce blood clotting and therefore prevent thrombus formation. Because heart failure is usually accompanied by rhythm disorders, antiarrhythmic agents can also be administered.

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