Heart Failure

A condition, sometimes called congestive heart failure, in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can cause blood and fluid to back up into the lungs. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet, ankles and legs (called edema), rapid or irregular heart beat, decreased ability to exercise and a persistent cough with white or pink phlegm. A number of factors can increase a person’s risk of heart failure, including high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, a previous heart attack, and diabetes.

Fortunately, several treatments are available for heart disease. Treatment can improve symptoms, prolong life and sometimes strengthen the heart muscle. Doctors typically treat heart failure with a combination of drugs including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as enalapril, lisinopril, fosinopril, perindopril, quinapril, ramipril, trandolapril, and captopril; angiotensin II receptor blockers such as losartan, valsartan, and candesartan; beta-blockers such as carvedilol, metoprolol and bisoprolol; diurectics such as furosemide, bumetanide, torsemide, chlorothiazide, amiloride, hydrlchlorothiazide, indapamide, metolazone, triamterene; angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitors such as sacubitril/valsartan; I-f channel blockers such as ivabradine;and aldosterone antagonists such as spironolactone and eplerenone.

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Heart failure also may be treated with surgery and medical devices, such as coronary bypass surgery (if coronary artery disease is contributing to the heart failure), replacement or repair of faulty heart valves or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to correct arrhythmias (irregular heart beats). Individuals may decrease the risk of heart failure by controlling its risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Want to learn more about living with heart failure? Read “Living Well With Heart Failure” and “Tips for Managing Congestive Heart Failure.”