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    Advances in Heart Failure Treatment

    By Susan Bernstein
    WebMD Feature

    Heart failure can sound scary. It doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped working -- it’s just not working as well as it should to pump blood.

    Recent treatment advances can help your ticker work better, keep you out of the hospital, and improve your quality of life.

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    High-tech implants can help your doctor check how your heart is doing in real time, so you can adjust your medications to feel better quickly. Research on new blood and genetic testing may soon make it easier for doctors to diagnose heart failure earlier or spot who’s most at risk for it.

    “Heart failure is no longer about ‘failure,’” says Clyde W. Yancy, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiology at Northwestern University. “The array of medical and device therapies, and the insight we now have regarding prevention, makes this both a preventable and treatable condition.

    “The outlook for those with heart failure has never been better.”

    New Drug Treatments

    Heart failure medicines can help you live longer, feel better, or treat your symptoms. To lower your blood pressure or slow your heart rate, you may take:

    • Beta blockers
    • ACE inhibitors to boost how much blood your heart pumps
    • Something your doctor will call “aldosterone antagonists,” which help you get rid of salt and water
    • Diuretics, sometimes called “water pills”

    Two new heart drugs can also help lower your chances of hospital visits because of your heart failure.

    Ivabradine (Corlanor): This slows your heart rate, which, may cut your time in the hospital, says Brian Lowes, MD, PhD, chair of cardiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

    It may be right for you if:

    • Your heart failure is caused by problems in your heart’s lower-left chamber
    • You have a normal heartbeat
    • You take beta blockers

    Sacubitril/Valsartan (Entresto): Lowes says this combination of two heart drugs can lessen your time in the hospital, and could help you live longer.

    You’ll probably also keep taking other heart meds with this new treatment, but it can’t be used with ACE inhibitors.

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