Congestive heart failure is diagnosed using a variety of tests that may include X-rays, blood tests, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress tests, CT scans, MRIs, coronary angiogram and/or myocardial biopsy. Once a doctor has diagnosed and determined the cause of a person’s heart failure, they can develop an appropriate treatment plan. In some cases, it is possible to treat heart failure by correcting the underlying cause. If a heart valve can be repaired or a fast heart rhythm controlled, it may reverse heart failure. However, in most cases, heart failure cannot be cured, but is a chronic disease that requires lifelong treatment.
What Medications May Be Prescribed for Congestive Heart Failure?
For most individuals who have been diagnosed with CHT, treatment involves finding the right combination of medications to help their heart beat and contract more correctly, and doses will most likely require frequent adjustments over time. Generally, individuals with CHF need to take one or medications, which may include:
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
ACE inhibitors are a type of vasodilator that help those with systolic heart failure feel better and live longer by widening blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, and improving blood flow in order to decrease the pressure put on the heart.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
Offering many of the same benefits of ACE inhibitors, angiotensin ii receptor blockers are another option for those who have trouble tolerating the side effects of ACE inhibitors.
Beta blockers are used to slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure, while limiting or actually reversing some of the damage to the heart for those with systolic heart failure. They reduce the risk of some types of abnormal heart rhythms and lessen the chances of death. Beta blockers may also reduce symptoms of heart failure, improve overall heart function, and help those with CHF to live longer.
Diuretics, also known as water pills, increase the frequency of urination in order to prevent fluid from building up within the body. Some diuretics also reduce the amount of fluid in the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Side effects include the loss of potassium and magnesium, so a doctor will monitor the levels of these minerals and often prescribe supplements.
These diuretics spare potassium and may increase the life expectancy of those with severe systolic heart failure. Side effects may include increased levels of potassium, so individuals taking these drugs may need to reduce their intake of foods high in potassium.
Inotropes are administered intravenously during hospital care to improve the heart’s pumping ability and maintain blood pressure for those suffering from severe heart failure.
Also known as digitalis, this medication is used to increase the strength of heart muscle contractions and slow the heartbeat. It reduces the symptoms of systolic heart failure and is most often prescribed for those with heart rhythm problems.
These medications are prescribed to lessen chest pain in those who suffer this symptom of congestive heart failure.
These medications are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels for those whose high cholesterol is a contributing factor in their CHF.
Blood thinners may be prescribed along with other heart failure medications in order to help prevent blood clots.
Oxygen may be administered via a mask or through small tubes placed in the nostrils during hospitalization or as part of long-term care for severe heart failure.
Those who are being treated for congestive heart failure may require in-home health care. Specialty Care Services offers a variety of specialized services that may make things easier. Contact us 24/7 for more information or to arrange for the help you need.