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Congestive Heart Failure Treatment Options

More than five million Americans are currently living with heart failure. Advanced congestive heart failure treatments are helping patients with congestive heart failure to live longer and more productive lives.

What is congestive heart failure?

Heart failure is the heart’s inability to pump enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to meet the body’s needs. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure associated with congestion in the body’s tissues.

How is congestive heart failure treated?

Patients with congestive heart failure should receive care from a team of heart failure specialists who offer a complete range of treatment options. In addition, specialists provide self care recommendations that address underlying conditions when appropriate, help the heart work more effectively, and ease heart failure symptoms.


A healthy lifestyle can help improve quality-of-life for patients with congestive heart failure. Several key areas include:

  • Diet – Patients should follow a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated or trans fats. Fluid intake should be managed very carefully according to guidance from the patient’s care team. Patients with congestive heart failure should avoid alcoholic beverages and should limit caffeine;
  • Smoking cessation – Smoking increases heart rate and blood pressure and makes it more difficult to alleviate symptoms of heart failure;
  • Moderate physical activity – Engaging in physical activities, as approved by the care team, can be very beneficial for patients with congestive heart failure.

Medical Therapies

A broad range of medical therapies is used to improve heart function and reduce symptoms in patients with congestive heart failure, including:

  • Diuretics to remove excess fluid;
  • Beta blockers to decrease heart rate and blood pressure;
  • Vasodilators to relax blood vessels and increase blood supply and oxygen;
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent clotting and reduce risk of heart attack or stroke;
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to expand blood vessels and decrease resistance;
  • Statins to lower cholesterol.

Interventions and Surgery

  • Catheter-based therapies – Interventional (catheter-based therapies) can sometimes address the underlying causes of congestive heart failure, including structural or valvular heart disease;
  • Ventricular assist devices can help the heart pump more efficiently;
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) – CRT paces both lower chambers so that the pumping function of both sides of the heart can be synchronized to optimize heart output, easing symptoms dramatically in some patients with congestive heart failure;
  • Heart Transplantation – When patients have exhausted other options, a heart transplant may be an option. In heart transplantation, cardiac surgeons replace the patient’s diseased heart with a donor heart, or an artificial heart while waiting for a donor heart to become available.

The Center for Advanced Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Center for Advanced Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy, an integral part of the Heart & Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), brings together heart failure experts, including cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiovascular imaging specialists, congenital heart disease specialists, and many others, to care for patients as one team. Together, the team tailors a congestive heart failure treatment plan to each patient’s needs, offering the latest medical, interventional, and surgical approaches.

Patient- and Family-centered Care

BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care involves systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment.

Quality of Patient Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our inpatient satisfaction survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and areas for improvement. We pride ourselves in the quality of patient care we provide and how we are measured compared with other hospitals.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH