Ideal Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure

Coenzyme Q10

Story at-a-glance -

  • Natural treatments must be the first options in helping reverse congestive heart failure
  • While medicines are the conventional remedy, patients should only consider them if natural treatments don’t work anymore

If you are living with congestive heart failure your doctor may consider different treatments depending on two factors: your overall health and how the condition has progressed.1 Medications, diet strategies, and an exercise or physical activity plan may be some of the first options your doctor suggests.2

If your condition is more serious, surgeries such as a coronary bypass and/or valve repair/replacement may be discussed.3 If you have trouble maintaining a regular heartbeat, your doctor may also consider implanting a defibrillator in your chest, which will send out small shocks to your heart to get it back on track if you develop an abnormal arrhythmia.4

However, no matter what stage of heart failure you may be in, the following natural treatments should be among your first options in helping to reverse congestive heart failure:5

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 plays an important role in your cells’ ability to extract energy from food. Because it’s the hardest working muscle in the body, the heart requires CoQ10 for energy, and one of the largest studies of its kind in the world showed that heart patients who supplemented with CoQ10 had a 43 percent decrease in cardiovascular death, compared to a placebo group.6

Low cholesterol levels, age and statin therapy reduce your body’s CoQ10 levels. If you’re taking statin drugs, consider CoQ10 supplements to prevent CoQ10 levels from lowering. It should be noted that ubiquinol (aka ubiquinone) is the reduced version of CoQ10 and is more readily absorbed by older persons, so if you choose to take a CoQ10 supplement and you are in this age group, make sure it contains ubiquinol.7

Magnesium and potassium: Supplements of magnesium and potassium can help patients with congestive heart failure. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension in 2011 revealed that taking magnesium and potassium supplements together, along with consuming a low sodium diet, helped patients reduce blood pressure levels and may be beneficial for overall function and heart disease.8

Meanwhile, a Current Hypertension Reports article published in the same year showed that dietary intake of potassium improved heart function by helping offset the rise in blood pressure levels from a high-salt diet.9 The best sources for potassium should be your diet, with foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas, spinach and mushrooms, for example. Do not take potassium supplements without first checking with your doctor to determine the correct dosage.10

Zinc: This mineral contains antioxidant properties that help neutralize free radicals that contribute to the development of heart disease. In fact, a 2011 study in Biological Trace Element Research suggested that persons with heart failure often have zinc deficiencies, and that supplementation with zinc may have possible benefits.11 Strive to get zinc from dietary sources, however, as taking too much zinc in supplemental form can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb other minerals.

Before taking zinc supplements, talk to your doctor to see if you would require these supplements for your condition and to determine an ideal dosage. Should you decide to take zinc supplements, opt for chelated forms compared to inorganic forms or zinc salts.

Medicines Often Used for Congestive Heart Failure Have Certain Caveats

As mentioned earlier, doctors may suggest medicines as a first-line treatment to alleviate congestive heart failure. But while these medicines are the conventional remedy, you should have a thorough discussion about the pros and cons of these drugs with your doctor before taking any of them, and then take them only if other methods, such as the natural treatments previously discussed, aren’t working. Some of the main drugs your doctor may prescribe are:12

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These medicines open up narrowed blood vessels to improve blood flow. If you cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors, vasodilators are another option. Lisinopril (brand name Zestril) is one of the more well-known ACE inhibitors. ACE inhibitors mustn’t be taken with these medicines because it can lead to unwanted side effects:

Thiazide diuretics

Potassium-sparing diuretics such as triamterene (Dyrenium), eplereneone (Inspra) and spironolactone (Aldactone)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen

Side effects of ACE inhibitors include dry cough, hyperkalemia (increased blood potassium levels), fatigue, dizziness, headaches and loss of taste. Angioedema or swelling of some areas of your tissues can also develop, although this is a rare side effect that occurs commonly among African-Americans and in smokers.13

Beta-blockers: These drugs are given to reduce blood pressure levels and slow your heartbeat. Lopressor, aka metoprolol, is a common beta-blocker given for this condition. However, side effects can manifest if you take beta-blockers alongside the following medications:

Antiarrhythmic medicines like amiodarone (Nexterone)

Antihypertensive medicines like lisinopril (Zestril), candesartan (Atacand) and amlodipine (Norvasc)

Albuterol’s (AccuNeb)

Fentora (fentanyl)

Antipsychotics such as thioridazine (Mellaril)

Clonidine (Catapres)

Beta-blockers’ side effects include fatigue, cold hands or feet, weight gain, shortness of breath, sleeping difficulties and depression.14 They also can cause triglycerides in your blood to rise — which may then trigger a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medicines like statins, and which come with their own set of side effects.15

Diuretics: Congestive heart failure can cause the body to retain more fluid, so some doctors may recommend diuretics such as thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics (like Lasix) and potassium-sparing diuretics. As much as possible, avoid taking diuretics with the following medications because of the risk of adverse reactions:

ACE inhibitors like lisinopril (Zestril), benazepril (Lotensin) and captopril (Capoten)

Tricyclics like amitriptyline and desipramine (Norpramin)

Anxiolytics like alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium)

Hypnotics such as zolpidem (Ambien) and triazolam (Halcion)

Beta-blockers like acebutolol (Sectral) and atenolol (Tenormin)

Calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc) and diltiazem (Cardizem)

Nitrates such as nitroglycerin (Nitrostat) and isosorbide-dinitrate (Isordil)

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen

Diuretics can trigger side effects like increasedurination, mineral loss, dizziness, headaches, dehydration, muscle cramps, impotence and joint disorders like gout. They can also affect your blood potassium levels.16 To counteract the potassium loss, your doctor may prescribe a potassium supplement for you, as studies show that potassium supplements with loop diuretics in particular may increase your survival chances.17

Surgical Treatments for Congestive Heart Failure

If medications aren’t effective on their own, any of the following procedures may be needed to treat congestive heart failure: 18, 19, 20

Coronary bypass surgery: This can be recommended if there are severely blocked arteries that are contributing to the disease.

During the surgery, blood vessels from the leg, arm or chest will be removed and used to bypass a blocked artery in the heart to allow blood to flow through the heart more freely. A coronary bypass is a major procedure which usually involves cutting the center of your chest open and splitting your ribs at the breastbone to get access to your heart.21

Heart valve repair or replacement: These may be ideal if a faulty mitral or aortic heart valve causes the disease. Certain types of heart valve repair or replacement for the aortic valve may now be done without open heart surgery, either using minimally invasive surgery or cardiac catheterization techniques. This is called a transcather aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Usually, a TAVR is only approved if you are considered ineligible for open heart surgery.22

To repair the said valve, the surgeon can modify the original valve to eliminate backward blood flow in a procedure called valvuloplasty. The affected valve can also be mended by reconnecting valve leaflets or removing excess valve tissue so leaflets can close tightly. An annuloplasty, involving tightening or replacing the ring around the valves, can also be done to repair the valve.

Valve replacement is performed when a repair isn’t possible, and it involves the valve being replaced by an artificial or prosthetic valve.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): An ICD, a device similar to a pacemaker, is implanted under the skin in your chest with wires leading through the veins and into your heart.

The ICD is responsible for monitoring your heart rhythm. If your heart starts beating a dangerous rhythm or stops beating altogether, the device uses electrical pulses or shocks to reset your heart’s rhythm or get it started again.

The ICD can also function as a pacemaker and speed the heart up if it’s going too slow. If you have heart failure that involves arrhythmia, your doctor may combine a pacemaker (cardiac resynchronization therapy) with the ICD.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) or biventricular pacing: A biventricular pacemaker sends timed electrical impulses to the heart’s lower chambers to help the left and right ventricles pump more efficient.

CRT can be helpful if you have a weak heart and problems with your heart’s electrical system.

Heart pumps: Medical devices, such as ventricular assist devices (VADs), are implanted into the abdomen or chest, and are attached to a weakened heart to help it pump blood to the rest of the body.

VADs are most often used in the heart’s left ventricle, although they can also be used in the right ventricle or in both ventricles. Heart pumps were first used as interim devices for people waiting for a heart transplant. However, VADs are now sometimes used as an alternative to transplantation.

These heart pumps can also help people with severe heart failure who aren’t eligible for, or are unable to undergo, a heart transplant, or who are waiting for a new heart. A VAD may be attached to a portable pump worn on your body, as opposed to the large external device, called a transcutaneous VAD, that is used for short-term support for your heart during and after surgery.23

Heart transplant: This can be recommended for patients with severe heart failure who cannot be treated with surgery or medications. A major caveat about this procedure, however, is that some candidates for a heart transplant may need to wait a long period of time before a suitable heart donor is found.

Angioplasty: For people whose heart failure is caused by coronary artery disease and can be compounded by heart damage or a previous attack, angioplasty can be an alternative.

An angioplasty, in which a catheter inserted into a blood vessel and threaded into the affected artery, is performed to treat narrowing or blockage of a coronary artery that delivers blood to the left ventricle. At the point of the narrowing or blockage, a tiny balloon and/or an expandable metal stent that’s attached to the end of the catheter is inflated and/or deployed.

The theory is that the stent helps expand and push aside the cholesterol deposits or plaque that are blocking the artery so blood can flow in a more normal manner.24 However, a recent study showed that although stents improve blood supply, they don’t provide more relief of symptoms compared to drug treatments.25

Remember that surgery is often recommended to address the problem that led to congestive heart failure. Talk to your doctor before undergoing surgery, so you’ll be fully informed about the procedure that might be needed and what to expect from it.26


Congestive Heart Failure: Introduction

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Congestive Heart Failure Causes

Congestive Heart Failure Stages

Congestive Heart Failure Life Expectancy

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Prevention

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

Congestive Heart Failure FAQ

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