Modern medicine has come a
long way in treating congestive heart failure. Doctors are now capable of
controlling most symptoms of this cardiovascular problem. This helps
sufferers live life more completely.
Physicians normally begin treatment with a group of medications known as ACE inhibitors. ACE is short for angiotensin converting enzyme. This medication has been
used for more than two decades in controlling high blood pressure. They work by literally blocking the formation of angiotensin II. This is a hormone that contains a host of potentially adverse side effects on the heart and circulatory system of those individuals who have heart failure.
Most recently, researchers recognize that ACE inhibitors demonstrate an amazing ability to not only improve the systems of congestive heart failure, but also prevent the deterioration of the condition. This, in effect, helps those life longer, happier lives. Physicians are excited by these new uses for an older drug. While ACE inhibitors possess some side effects, including a dry cough, problems with kidney function and even may cause an imbalance in electrolytes in the system, both physicians and patients seem to think the potential dangers are worth the immense benefits.
Examples of ACE inhibitors include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Zestril and Prinivil), benazepril (Lotensin) and ramipril (Altace).
Some individuals though just aren't able to take ACE inhibitors. For those there's an alternative class of drugs, known as angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). This group of medications acts in a similar fashion. They block the action of angiotensin II at the receptor site directly. One study shows that ARBs produce a greater survival benefit in older persons with heart failure compared to ACE inhibitors. More research needs to be done, however, to be able to verify this with any certainty. It certainly is promising.
Another class of medication is called the beta-blocker. This medicine works best when the patient is started on a low dose and then works up to a larger dose. This line of treatment may, initially, make a person feel a little worse, but this feeling won't last long. In the meantime, your health care practitioner will adjust your other medications.
Beta-blockers aren't without side effects either. These include low blood pressure, low pulse, general fatigue and lightheadedness. Beta-blockers aren't suitable for those individuals who have asthma or emphysema or very low resting heart rates.
Your health care practitioner may also prescribe a diuretic. This drug helps to prevent fluid retention or to help relieve the problem. These drugs are especially important in keeping fluid from building up in the lungs and other tissues.
Note: Some statements in this article may not be
approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and
should not be taken as professional medical advice.