Your treatment for heart failure depends on:
- The cause of your heart failure.
- Which type of heart failure you have.
- How bad your symptoms are (classification).
- How well your body is able to make up (compensate) for your heart failure.
- Your goals, wishes, and preferences about your treatment.
- Taking medicines, such as a diuretic and an ACE inhibitor. To learn more, see Medications.
- Making lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt and being more active. To learn more, see Living With Heart Failure.
- Getting vaccines. Your doctor may want you to get vaccines against pneumonia and flu. These vaccines can keep you from getting infections that could put you in the hospital.
- Checking your weight. Your doctor will probably give you guidelines for watching fluid buildup and tell you how much weight gain is too much.
- Getting devices to fix heart rhythm problems. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a biventricular pacemaker that can help your heart pump blood better. This is also called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Or you may have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to stop a deadly rhythm. Some people get a pacemaker that is combined with an ICD.
- Oxygen treatment. Your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy to reduce your shortness of breath and increase your ability to exercise.
A very small number of people may have other treatments, including:
- Ventricular assist devices (VADs), which help the heart pump blood.
- Heart transplant, which replaces your heart with a donor heart.
Treatment for causes of heart failure
If you have other heart problems that may have led to heart failure, you might have treatment for those problems:
- Coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty.
- Surgery to replace or repair a valve in your heart.
- Cardiac rehabilitation, a supervised program that uses exercise, education, and support to help people recover from heart problems. For more information, see the topic Cardiac Rehabilitation.
Sometimes heart failure can be fixed if another problem can be corrected, such as by treating hyperthyroidism.
Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have a serious illness. It's different from care to cure your illness. Its goal is to improve your quality of life-not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit.
You can have this care along with treatment to cure your illness. You can also have it if treatment to cure your illness no longer seems like a good choice.
Palliative care providers will work to help control pain or side effects. They may help you decide what treatment you want or don't want. And they can help your loved ones understand how to support you.
If you're interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor.
For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.
Heart failure tends to get worse over time. So you need to decide what kind of care you want at the end of your life.
It can be hard to have talks with your doctor and family about the end of your life. But making these decisions now may bring you and your family peace of mind. Your family won't have to wonder what you want. And you can spend your time focusing on your relationships.
You will need to decide if you want life-support measures if your health gets very bad. An advance directive is a legal document that tells doctors how to care for you at the end of your life. This care includes electronic devices that are used for heart failure, such as pacemakers. You also can say where you want to have care. And you can name someone who can make sure your wishes are followed.
For more information, see the topic Care at the End of Life.