Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to meet the needs of the body. As a consequence, the patient has fatigue and shortness of breath, and sometimes abnormal coughing. Heart failure is a serious condition, and unfortunately, there is no cure. However, a person with heart failure can lead a full life when it is managed with medications and a healthy lifestyle. Understanding advanced heart failure and treatment options can help you or a loved one live longer.
Stages of Heart Failure
There are four stages (or classes) when a person has heart failure.
Stage 1 includes patients with no symptoms or structural heart problems, but who have risk factors.
Stage 2 includes patients with structural heart disease but no symptoms.
Stage 3 includes patients who have symptoms.
Stage 4 includes patients who need special interventions, like a pacemaker, to reduce progressive problems.
What Patients Can Do
Just because a person is diagnosed with heart failure doesn’t mean you give up trying to live healthy. There are several steps you or your loved one can undertake to alleviate symptoms and guard against more damage to the heart.
They include the following:
- Reduce salt intake
- Mild exercise if your cardiologist recommends it
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Lose weight
Treatment Options for Heart Failure
Of course, we all should recognize there are benefits and risks to all therapies and treatments.
A cardiologist with New Jersey Cardiology Associates may prescribe some of these medications depending on the stage of your heart failure and your symptoms.
- ACE inhibitors or ARBs to reduce strain on your heart
- Diuretics to reduce fluids and salt
- Digitalis or ACE inhibitors to enhance heart strength and maintain heart rhythm
- Beta blockers and other meds to control coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and arrhythmias
If medications are not enough to control symptoms and manage the condition, your cardiologist may suggest some procedures and more aggressive treatments.
These can include: balloon angioplasty and stenting for coronary artery disease, a pacemaker, catheter ablation, defibrillator (ICD) for heart irregularities, and/or minimally invasive repair or replacement of faulty valves.
The next phase could be a mechanical pump or artificial heart (while waiting for a transplant).
Lastly, a heart transplant may be recommended.
Anyone can improve their life expectancy even with heart failure by altering their lifestyle, being faithful to recommended medications to control symptoms, and lastly choosing the best procedures in consultation with their physician.
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates if you are experiencing symptoms of heart failure or if you would like a second opinion. Call your preferred location directly or request an appointment through our secure online form. We have cardiology clinics in West Orange, Belleville, Toms River, and Clifton.