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Heart Failure Online Manual

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Other treatments

You may need other treatments besides medicine to help your heart work better or to prevent serious problems.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)

diagram of ICD

Heart 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.

Biventricular pacemaker

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 left ventricles).

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.

Intravenous (IV) therapies

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

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.

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)

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.

Heart transplant

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 working well.

Center for Advanced Heart Failure Treatment

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.


 

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-20-7

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 07/19/2008

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts