Congestive heart failure treatment focuses on improving the efficiency of the weakened heart. Medications are used for decreasing blood pressure, improving the pumping function of the heart and prevent fluid build-up.
Medications to Treat Congestive Heart Failure
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
ACE inhibitors are primarily recommended for keeping systolic dysfunction in congestive heart failure patients under control. They may also be used for treating diastolic dysfunction. By reducing the blood pressure, ACE inhibitors improve blood flow, which prevents the heart from working too hard to pump blood. Moreover, these drugs suppress certain harmful activities of the endocrine system triggered by hear failure.
They inhibit activities of angiotensin, a hormone that worsens the symptoms of congestive heart failure by stimulating vasoconstriction. Dizziness, skin rash, mouth sore, change in taste, coughing, easy bruising, irregular heart rhythm, vomiting, diarrhea and high levels of potassium are possible side effects of the drug.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker (ARB)
Angiotensin II receptor blocker is an effective alternative to ACE inhibitor. People on this drug can enjoy the same benefits of ACE inhibitors with fewer side effects. They are usually recommended for congestive heart failure patients who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors.
Nitrates are taken by congestive heart failure patients who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors. By facilitating dilation of the blood vessels, they rapidly reduce the workload of the heart. Nitrates may cause irregular or rapid heartbeat, headache and stomach upset.
Beta-blockers are most effective for people with mild to moderate congestive heart failure. Their effect on severe congestive heart failure is unclear. These drugs slow down heart rate, reduce the blood pressure level and decrease episodes of irregular heart rhythm.
When taken for a prolonged period, beta-blockers may help to improve the pumping function of the heart. To reduce the risk of side effects, beta-blockers should be taken with meals. Dizziness, tiredness, headache, sleeping difficulties, constipation or diarrhea, weight gain, breathing difficulties and swelling of extremities are common side effects of beta-blockers.
Digoxin helps to normalize the heart rhythm by improving contraction of heart muscles. It is the most prominent medication used for treating congestive heart failure. In addition to reducing the heartbeat, digoxin helps to reduce the blood pressure level. It is usually used along with an ACE inhibitor, beta-blocker and diuretic. Nausea, vomiting, change in vision, muscle weakness and fatigue are possible side effects of the drug.
Fluid build-up, a common side effect of congestive heart failure, is treated with diuretics.
Eliminating the excess fluid from the body reduces the load on the heart. Moreover, removing fluid from the lungs eases breathing. Frequent urination, weakness, muscle cramps and dizziness are common side effects of these drugs.
This drug is used for treating severe congestive heart failure. It is effective in treating systolic dysfunction.
By suppressing production of a harmful substance called aldosterone, this drug prevents fluid-up in the body. It is also capable of reversing scarring of the damaged heart.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers are only used for treating congestive heart failure that occurs only due to systolic dysfunction. By regulating movement of calcium in the heart cells and blood vessels, calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure and chest pain. Drowsiness, breathing difficulties, increase in appetite are possible side effects of these drugs.
End stage congestive heart failure is treated with inotropes. Intravenous inotrope drugs are given to improve heart rhythm.
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