The treatment for Heart Failure is often a multipronged approach with both clinical as well as lifestyle components. Fundamentally, heart failure develops as a consequence of unhealthy lifestyle choices. And it is imperative that there is a definite change in lifestyle for the effective management of heart failure. This includes appropriate diet restrictions - fats, sodium and excessive carbs; taking up physical exercise & activities; striving for a healthier work-life balance; and giving up smoking, alcohol consumption (if any).
In addition to the above lifestyle changes, doctors will also prescribe the following clinical measures.
The beta blockers block the stress hormones that cause inflammation of the heart; also allow the heart to rest better.
These medicines reduce excess water in the body. This improves breathing pattern & appetite while reducing swelling.
The ACEIs & ARBs help dilate blood vessels which improves blood flow and thereby reduce the stress on the heart.
Potassium supplements are prescribed as it helps regulate the normal heart rhythm and helps builds the heart muscle.
Implantable devices such as pacemakers or LVADs improve heart rhythm and thereby make the heart function efficiently.
A heart transplant is the surgical removal and replacement of the patient's heart with a healthy heart from a donor.
A patient with an abnormal heart rhythm and subsequent difficulty in pumping adequate blood to the body, doctors could prescribe a mechanical device to provide the additional support that the heart needs. The devices help correct heart rhythm, improve electrical activity in the heart and aid the overall improvement in heart function. The kind of device that needs to be implanted is based on the symptoms of heart failure, and the extent of impairment in the functioning of the heart.
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is employed for patients with an end-stage heart failure. The device is surgically implanted into the patient. It powered by a battery and uses a mechanical pump to help improve pumping of the blood from the left ventricle to the rest of the body.
A right ventricular assist device (RVAD) is a battery powered, mechanical device that helps pump blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs. The right ventricle is the pulmonary chamber and right side heart failure impairs the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs.
A bi-ventricular assist device (BiVAD) is an implantable device deployed for patients with heart failure in both chambers of the heart. This device is a battery powered one and combines the functions of both the LVAD and RVAD to help restore normal blood flow in the body & to lungs.
A Heart Transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a diseased heart of a patient with a healthy one from a donor. This is necessary in patients with end-stage heart failure wherein medications and heart devices fail to provide long-term solution. This is a last resort surgery to ensure that the individual can remain healthy with a heart transplanted from another person. The donor's heart is harvested from a brain dead person. The diseased person's heart is then removed to be replaced with the harvested organ.
For patient's undergoing heart transplants, doctors could seek to transplant both the heart & lung transplant - if the patient is suffering from both heart & lung diseases. This is one of the most complex surgeries and there are various risks involved in performing these surgeries. The fundamental risk involved would be the failure of the donor's organs or the complications involved in harvesting them. Secondly, there is a huge challenging in transporting the organ, especially great distances, without affecting their performance after the transplant.
Few conditions require a heart-lung dual transplant to be carried out. Some of these include - end-stage congenital heart abnormalities; pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary hypertension with right-heart failure, inflammation or lumps in the heart or lungs. These conditions could be rare & complex and may not be cured with medicines or mechanical devices.
There are fundamental risks involved in the surgery which include - failure of the donor's organs or the complications involved in harvesting them; challenges of transporting the organ over great distances without affecting the performance of the organs after the transplant; and finally the challenge of ensuring the recipient's body does not reject the organ.
Adequate post-surgical care is vital for the success of a complex procedure such as a heart-lung transplant. Appropriate lifestyle changes are a must and a patient must adhere to the medications at all times. Doctors are likely to prescribe strong immunity suppressing medication which requires the patient to take additional care and not contract other diseases.