Heart Failure Treatment


Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is a medical condition in which the heart has less ability to pump the oxygen-rich blood the body's other organs need. While the heart continues to pump during heart failure, it is not as efficient as a healthy heart, leading to symptoms that may include shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and ankles, fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite, and a persistent cough. The condition affects nearly five million Americans.

Heart failure treatment is determined by a patient's overall health, age and medical history, as well as the underlying factors contributing to heart failure. If heart failure is the result of a valve disorder, valve surgery may be recommended, including mitral valve repair. If there is an underlying disease, heart failure treatment will target that condition.

Heart failure treatment may include:

  • Changes in the patient's lifestyle habits to control risk factors, including losing weight, reducing salt and fat the in diet, stopping smoking, controlling blood pressure, abstaining from alcohol and more.
  • Heart failure treatment may include medications to decrease pressure inside the blood vessels, to reduce the amount of fluid in the body, to dilate blood vessels and reduce workload on the heart, and to help the heart beat stronger and more regularly.
  • A type of pacemaker surgery may be recommended for heart failure treatment. Biventricular pacing/cardiac resynchronization therapy involves a type of pacemaker that controls both pumping chambers of the heart and coordinates contractions to improve the heart's efficiency.
  • A cardioverter defibrillator may be implanted. This device senses when the heart is beating too fast and helps return it to a normal rhythm by delivering an electric shock.
  • Treatment may require a ventricular assist device implanted in the heart to assume the pumping function for one or both of the heart's ventricles.
  • Heart transplantation may be necessary when all other measures fail.

Many advances in heart failure treatment have been developed over the past several decades, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long played a key role in this evolution of heart failure treatment. In this video, Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, Executive Director of the BWH Center for Advanced Heart Disease, explains options for effectively repairing, replacing, or recovering heart function, including ventricular assist devices, in patients with heart failure. Dr. Mehra also discusses what future advances we can expect for patients with heart failure.

Heart failure treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston is one of the country's leading cardiovascular care centers, offering patients the most advanced treatment for heart failure as well as comprehensive treatment for complex diseases of the heart, blood vessels and circulatory system. In addition to heart failure treatment, BWH provides treatment for a broad range of cardiovascular conditions, including aortic valve surgeryballoon angioplasty, and more.

The Heart & Vascular Center is staffed by some of the world's leading cardiovascular specialists and equipped with state-of-the art technology, offering the kind of compassionate care and treatment that has helped BWH to gain a reputation as one of the top hospitals in the country.

Learn more about Heart Failure Treatments at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.