Sophisticated Heart Failure Treatment Close to Home
The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program is revolutionizing heart failure treatment for patients in Kentucky, Louisville and Southern Indiana. The program helps patients recover heart function and recover their lives. We use leading-edge technology to help recovery with as few nights in the hospital as possible.
Heart failure progresses through four stages. The specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program have the experience and the expertise to slow the progress of your disease and sometimes help hearts regain strength. For most people, heart failure treatment requires a balance of the right medications, a low-sodium diet and fluid restrictions that can help ease symptoms.
What Is the Treatment for Heart Failure?
Your heart failure treatment will continue for the rest of your life — a longer-term prospect than in the past. Medication, close monitoring and a healthy diet and regular exercise routine can manage the disease. The earlier you start treatment, the better your chance of controlling symptoms, preventing further damage to your heart and regaining heart function.
Your treatment starts with a precise diagnosis to determine how well your heart is pumping blood through your body. Blood tests, stress tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and a coronary angiogram are some of the tests our specialists will use to determine the severity, cause and effects of your heart failure.
Rebuilding your heart muscle may be an option through the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Myocardial Recovery Program using evidence-based medication choices, close remote monitoring and a holistic approach to lifestyle modification to promote the best possible environment for heart recovery.
Severe cases of heart failure may require surgical repair and mechanical circulatory support — a pump that helps your heart move oxygen-rich blood out to your body. A surgically implanted ventricular assist device can provide long-term relief or serve as a short-term solution while you wait for a heart transplant.
Preventing Heart Damage With Active Monitoring
Your heart will work to recover. Part of our job is to give your heart room to heal by preventing additional damage. We use a number of remote monitoring technologies to alert your cardiologist of any changes in your heart’s function that can further weaken it.
- CardioMEMS HF System. This permanently implanted device transmits data from your heart when you lie on a special pillow a couple times per week. If the readings are outside of set parameters, it alerts the team at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program.
- LifeVest. Patients newly diagnosed with systolic heart failure and at risk of sudden cardiac death may wear this cardioverter defibrillator. Worn directly against the skin, the lightweight LifeVest detects any life-threatening, rapid rhythm, and shocks the heart back into a normal beat.
- ReDS System. This is a vest you’ll put on at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program office. The vest painlessly measures lung fluid in as little as 45 seconds. Excess lung fluid can be a sign of decreased heart function.
Heart Failure Medications
Heart failure can be treated with a combination of medications. Common heart failure medications include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and decrease workload on the heart. Examples are enalapril, lisinopril and captopril.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). These have the same benefits as an ACE inhibitor, and may be an alternative for people who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors. Examples are losartan and valsartan.
- Cardiac glycosides. These increase the strength of heart muscle contractions. They can slow the heartbeat and may reduce heart failure symptoms. An example is digoxin.
- Combination neprilysin inhibitor/ARB. This is used with other heart failure therapies, in place of an ACE inhibitor or ARB alone, to reduce strain on the heart, improve blood flow and aid in removal of fluid. An example is sacubitril/valsartan (Entresto).
- Beta blockers. These drugs slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. They reduce the signs and symptoms of heart failure and improve heart function. Examples are carvedilol and metoprolol.
- Diuretics. Sometimes called water pills, these drugs increase urination and help keep fluid from collecting in the body. This also decreases fluid in the lungs, helping make breathing easier. Some diuretics make the body lose potassium, so you may need to take a potassium supplement. Examples are bumetanide (Bumex), furosemide (Lasix) and torsemide.
- Aldosterone antagonists. These diuretics do not cause potassium loss and have additional properties that help the heart work better. They may reverse scarring of the heart and help individuals with severe heart disease live longer. Examples are spironolactone and eplerenone.
- Inotropes. These intravenous medications work by increasing the heart’s strength and the force of blood pumping through the body. They also widen blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily. Examples are milrinone and dobutamine.