Heart Failure Treatment
At the University of Chicago Medicine, the multidisciplinary heart failure team meets daily to discuss cases and determine the best treatment plan for each patient. It’s all part of the personalized approach we take to every patient’s care.
Treatment for heart failure is determined by the cause of the condition. In some cases, medication and lifestyle changes can alleviate symptoms, while in other cases, surgery will be the recommended therapy. The goal of medical and surgical interventions for heart failure is to slow the progression of the condition and to improve the individual’s quality of life.
- Personalized recommendations for lifestyle changes that can delay the advancement of heart failure and other cardiac diseases
- Cardiac rehabilitation may be effective for patients with stable, chronic heart failure. Components of cardiac rehabilitation include: exercise, behavioral and risk factor reduction, health education and personal counseling.
- Access to a wide array of heart failure medications. Most patients need to take a combination of medications to treat heart failure. While they don’t cure the condition, carefully chosen medications can enhance the heart’s function and improve symptoms. Our heart failure specialists have expertise in prescribing the most balanced combination of FDA-approved heart medicines, including:
- ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and ARBs angiotensin receptor blockers) – to widen blood vessels and lower blood pressure
- Beta-blockers – to slow heart rate
- Aldosterone blockers -- to prevent remodeling of he heart
- Diuretics – to prevent fluid retention and relieve swelling
- Digoxin – to help the heart pump more efficiently
- Vasodilators – to lower blood pressure, reducing the heart’s workload
In addition, our cardiologists have access to new or investigational medicines and therapies that are not widely available.
- Catheterization treatments, such as angioplasty and stent implants, are used to improve blood flow by reopening blocked blood vessels. Our interventional cardiologists also offer intracoronary radiation to reduce re-narrowing of blood vessels after treatment.
- Evaluation and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Treatments include: medication; implantation of pacemaker and/or defibrillator to regulate heartbeats; and electrical cardioversion and radiofrequency ablation for arrhythmias, including the most common heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), a treatment aimed at coordinating the pumping action of the heart's ventricles. A small, special pacemaker-like device is used to deliver electrical signals to restore proper heart contraction. This treatment is also called biventricular pacing.
Heart failure patients may need surgery to replace faulty heart valves, bypass narrowed arteries, implant sophisticated devices to boost circulation or undergo heart transplantation.
University of Chicago Medicine heart surgeons are recognized leaders in the full range of surgical treatment for heart failure. In fact, our surgeons pioneered many procedures for heart failure, and continue to develop innovative devices and new surgical techniques to treat the condition.
Some of the heart failure surgical procedures available at the University of Chicago Medicine include:
- Robotic, minimally invasive, beating heart and standard open heart coronary artery bypass surgery to improve blood flow to the heart
- Complex valve repair and replacement, using human tissue or artificial heart valves
- Atrial fibrillation surgery that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy tissue that causes atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm sometimes found in people with heart failure
- Ventricular reconstruction, during which a surgeon reshapes an enlarged heart and repairs malfunctioning valves
- Ventricular assist devices (VADs), implanted mechanical devices that work to increase the pumping action of the heart.
- Heart transplantation, including re-transplantation and multiple organ transplantation