You may need other treatments besides medicine to help your
heart work better or to prevent serious problems.
failure can cause your heart to beat too fast or in an
irregular manner that is life-threatening. When this happens, an
implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may help control or
correct the dangerous rhythm. It does this by sending an electrical
shock to your heart to restore the regular rhythm.
Like a pacemaker, the ICD uses lead wires that are connected to
a pulse generator. There is a computer unit in the ICD that detects
any life-threatening rhythm problems and sends an electrical shock
to your heart to correct it.
If your ICD sends an electrical shock to your heart, you must
call your health care provider. He or she can look for any causes
for the dangerous rhythm.
The chambers of your heart may lose the ability to contract in a
coordinated way. The heart can't pump as much blood if the chambers
don't contract together. A special kind of pacemaker, called a
biventricular pacemaker, may help.
A normal pacemaker has two parts: a pulse generator (battery)
and one or two lead wires, or electrodes. The pulse generator
creates an electrical impulse and the lead wires carry that impulse
to the heart muscle to make it contract.
A biventricular pacemaker has a pulse generator just like a
regular pacemaker, but it has three lead wires. One goes into the
upper part of the right side of your heart (right atrium), and the
other two wires go into the bottom parts of your heart (right and
These lead wires cause the top part of your heart to contract
first and two ventricles contract at the same time second. This
organized rhythm increases the amount of blood the heart pumps.
There are many different medicines that can be helpful in
managing heart failure symptoms. Some of these special intravenous
(IV) medicines include dobutamine and milrinone.
Ultra-filtration involves a special IV filtering technique that
can be used to remove fluid. This is a short-term process that will
be done in the hospital.
The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical
pumping device that is implanted into your abdomen and connected to
a power pack. The power pack is attached to a belt you wear around
your waist. When your heart beats, the LVAD pumps too. This helps
add a boost to your heart's pumping ability.
A heart transplant may be an option if you have
severe heart failure, have not responded to other treatments, and
if you are in overall good health. A surgeon would replace your
heart with a healthy heart from someone who has died. Life after a
transplant involves taking many medicines to keep your new heart
The Minneapolis Heart Institute®'s Center for
Advanced Heart Failure Treatment brings together a team that
specializes in heart failure and understands how to manage it. The
team works closely with each patient, the patient's primary care
doctor and the patient's family. This coordinated approach focuses
on the individual needs of each patient and family and helps them
live with heart failure more comfortably and easily.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-20-7
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
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