The main treatments for heart failure are making lifestyle changes and taking your medicines. However, there are procedures and surgeries that may help.
A heart pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device that sends a signal to your heart. The signal makes your heart beat at the correct pace.
Pacemakers may be used:
When your heart is weakened, gets too large, and does not pump blood very well, you are at high risk for abnormal heartbeats that can lead to sudden cardiac death.
The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CAD may become worse and make it harder to manage your symptoms.
After performing certain tests your doctor may feel that opening a narrowed or blocked blood vessel will improve your heart failure symptoms. Suggested procedures may include:
Blood that flows between the chambers of your heart, or out of your heart into the aorta, must pass through a heart valve. These valves open enough to allow blood to flow through. They then close, keeping blood from flowing backward.
When these valves do not work well, blood does not flow correctly through the heart to the body. This problem may cause heart failure or make heart failure worse.
Heart valve surgery may be needed to repair or replace one of the valves.
Some types of surgery are done for severe heart failure when other treatments no longer work. These procedures are often used when a person is waiting for a heart transplant.
You may need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) if you have severe heart failure that cannot be controlled with medicine or a special pacemaker.
Intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP) help maintain heart function in people who are waiting for transplants. They can also help patients who have a sudden and severe decline in heart function. The IABP is a thin, implanted balloon. Most often, it is inserted into the artery in the leg and threaded into the artery leading from the heart (aorta).
Mann DL. Management of heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.
Otto CM, Bonow RO. Valvular heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 66.
Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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