Congestive heart failure is a medical condition in which the heart is unable to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to other organs in the body. Although the heart continues to pump during congestive heart failure, it is not as functional or efficient as a healthy heart, causing patients to experience symptoms that may include fatigue and weakness, shortness of breath, swelling in the ankles and legs, loss of appetite, and a persistent cough.
Congestive heart failure treatment at BWH
Patients seeking congestive heart failure treatment can find innovative, compassionate care in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston. Our team of leading cardiovascular specialists offers outstanding personalized care for patients in the state-of-the-art Heart & Vascular Center, collaborating with specialists in cardiac surgery and anesthesia, dedicated nurses, nutritionists and other professionals who provide evaluation and treatment for thousands of patients annually.
Congestive heart failure treatment depends upon a patient's medical history, overall health and age, as well as other underlying conditions that may be affecting the heart. Congestive heart failure treatment at BWH may include:
Lifestyle changes to limit risk factors. The first step in heart failure treatment often involves asking patients to lose weight, reduce fat and salt in their diet, control blood pressure, stop smoking, abstain from alcohol, and change other personal habits.
Medication. Physicians may recommend medications to dilate blood vessels and reduce the workload on the heart, decrease pressure inside the blood vessels, reduce fluid in the body, and help the heart beat stronger and more regularly.
Cardioverter-defibrillator. This congestive heart failure treatment involves implantation of a device to sense when the heart is beating too quickly and deliver an electric shock that helps return it to a normal rhythm.
Ventricular assist device. This device may be implanted in the heart to control the pumping function in one or both of the heart's ventricles.
Heart transplant. When all other measures have proved ineffective, physicians may recommend heart transplantation.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy: a breakthrough in congestive heart failure treatment
Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) is a new breakthrough in congestive heart failure treatment. When the lower heart chambers (ventricles) do not contract at the same time, the function of the heart can be significantly impaired. This congestive heart failure treatment involves use of a pacemaker to control both lower chambers so that the heart can be resynchronized, reducing the symptoms of congestive heart failure dramatically for some patients.