Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Overview (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is congestive heart failure (CHF)?
- What causes congestive heart failure?
- What are the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure?
- What are the risk factors for congestive heart failure?
- How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for congestive heart failure?
- What is the prognosis for congestive heart failure?
- Can congestive heart failure be prevented?
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What is the treatment for congestive heart failure?
The goal of treatment for congestive heart failure is to have the heart beat more efficiently so that it can meet the energy needs of the body. Specific treatment depends upon the underlying cause of heart failure.
Treatment may try to decrease fluid within the body so that the heart does not have to work as hard to circulate blood through the blood vessels in the body.
Fluid restriction and a decrease in salt intake may be very helpful. Diuretic medications (water pills) may be prescribed if appropriate. Common diuretics include furosemide, bumetanide, and hydrochlorothiazide.
Medications are available that can make the heart pump more efficiently, increase cardiac output, and increase ejection fraction.
ACE inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotension receptor blockers) are medicines that are also shown to increase survival by decreasing hypertension; they are often used with other drugs. Beta blockers may control heart rate and increase cardiac output and ejection fraction. Digoxin is an older medicine that may help increase cardiac output and control symptoms.
Cardiac risk factor modification is the cornerstone of prevention but may also benefit patients with established congestive heart failure.
Weight loss, establishing an exercise program, stopping smoking, and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes may help in the management of congestive heart failure. End stage congestive heart failure (NYHA stage IV) patients may require aggressive treatments including left ventricular assist devices (LVAD), an implanted pump that helps increase the heart's ability to squeeze, or even heart transplantation.
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