When you’re diagnosed with congestive heart failure, your doctor will likely recommend a multi-pronged treatment plan depending on your risk factors. Cardiologists recommend several lifestyle changes regarding diet, exercise, and smoking. (Here’s more information on eating a low-salt diet with heart failure, on how to exercise with heart failure, and on why quitting smoking is so critical for heart failure.)
However, if lifestyle changes along with taking various medications for heart failure are not effective at managing disruptive symptoms of heart failure or preventing disease progression, surgery may be necessary.
There are two devices that can help the heart maintain a normal rhythm for people with congestive heart failure. One device is an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which monitors heart rhythm and kicks in if the heart develops an abnormal rhythm.
Another surgical device for managing heart failure is a pacemaker, which uses small electrical signals to coordinate the pumping of the heart. Often, a pacemaker is used along with an ICD.
Another surgery for heart failure is angioplasty, which involves a doctor opening up an artery to improve blood flow to the heart if the artery has been narrowed or blocked. If angioplasty isn’t sufficient, a doctor may recommend coronary bypass surgery. This is when a blood vessel is taken from another part of the body, such as the leg, and used to create a detour around the clogged artery.
For heart failure patients with a defective heart valve, the valve can be repaired or replaced. There are different types of heart valve surgeries, including a minimally invasive option.
If patients have more advanced heart failure, doctors can implant a pump called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), in the abdomen or chest and connect it to the heart. This pump is commonly used when patients are waiting for a heart transplant or are not eligible for a heart transplant.