Congestive Heart Failure Treatment by Med and Diet


Congestive HeartFailure: Treatment by Med and Diet

Heart failure is the number one reason for hospital readmissions inthe United States. This condition alone cost billions every year totreat and affects millions of people in the U.S. One of the mostimportant facets of treatment is prevention at home throughmedication adherences and maintaining a strict cardiac diet. Thesetwo key components alone will help to decrease readmissions andimprove the quality of life for patients living with heart failure.

Some of the roles played by medicines in the management ofcongestive heart disease include controlling or relieving symptoms,improving the patient`s quality of life, and reducing hospital stays.Also, medications reduce the risk of developing other problems thatare associated with heart failure, such as stroke (National Instituteof Health, 2016). However, some of the patients chose to buy over thecounter medicine, which are may be lethal to their health (GroupHealth, 2014). 1

Some of the medicines used to manage congestive heart failure areknown as Beta blockers, and they include carvedilol and metoprolol(Group Health, 2014). These medicines help to lower the heart rateand the blood pressure. Also, they help protect the patient fromcertain substances that can impair the heart. In the beginning, adoctor prescribes to a patient very low doses of beta blockers. Withtime, the doses are increased steadily until a point where they proveto work best. Some of the common side effects of using beta blockersinclude feeling tired and dizziness. Also, the patient may experiencethe worsening of the common symptoms, but with time the conditionimproves (Gloup Health, 2014).

In addition to beta blockers, the other medicines used in themanagement of congestive heart failure are known as ACE inhibitors,and they include lisinopril and captopril (Mayo Clinic, 2016). ACEinhibitors decrease the amount of hormones produced by the patient’sbody and which are known to have damaging effects on the heart. Also,these medicines lower blood pressure and open blood vessels to reducethe workload of the patient’s heart. Some of the side effects ofusing ACE inhibitors include increased potassium levels, dizziness,changes in the functioning of the kidney, and dry coughs that improvewith time (Global Health, 2014).

The other type of medication given to patients with congestive heartfailure is the angiotensin receptor blockers, and Losartan is one ofthem (Mayo Clinic, 2016). These medicines work in the same way as theACE inhibitors. However, unlike the ACE inhibitors the angiotensinreceptor blockers do not trigger coughs. A person taking theangiotensin receptor blockers may experience dizziness, increasedpotassium levels, and changes in the functioning of the kidney (GloupHealth, 2014).

A doctor may also prescribe aldosterone antagonists such asspironolactone and eplerenone (Mayo Clinic, 2016). These medicineshelp patients suffering from congestive heart disease by preventingtheir bodies from producing hormones that are known to destroy theheart. A person taking aldosterone antagonists may experiencetenderness or swelling in the breast in both women and men. Also,patients using aldosterone antagonists to manage their congestiveheart failure may experience changes in kidney function as well asincreased potassium levels (Group Health, 2014).

The other medicines used to manage congestive heart failure aredigoxins such as Lanoxin (Mayo Clinic, 2016). These medicines work bylowering the heart rate and improving the pumping ability of thepatient`s heart. Some common side effects of digoxin includedigestive problems, nausea, and poor appetite (Group Health, 2014).

Congestive heart failure is also managed with hydralazine andnitrates, such as Imdur, nitrobid, Isordil, and Apresoline. Thesemedicines are often used together, and they work by opening the bloodvessels and this makes it easy for the heart to receive and pumpblood. This raises the heart rate beyond the recommended beats perminute (Group Health, 2014). 2After taking hydralazinesand nitrates, a person may experience headaches, dizziness, andswelling of the legs, arts, hands, and feet (Group Health, 2014).

Lastly, doctors may prescribe Diuretics such as Lasix, bumex andzaroxylyn to patients with congestive heart disease (Mayo Clinic,2016). These drugs are known as water pills as a result of theirability to remove excess fluid from the patients` body making iteasier for them to breath. Some common side effects of usingdiuretics include dizziness, itching, gout, dehydration, increasedurination, and skin rashes, among others (Group Health, 2014).

Apart from the use of medicines, congestive heart failure can bemanaged through diet. A person with this condition should limithis/her intake of salt and food with high sodium content. He/sheshould always check food labels and only consume food products thatcontain low salt or sodium content. Sodium develops a sponge-likesubstance that holds extra water in the body, and this triggers theheart to work harder. Large amounts of sodium are found in salt(sodium chloride). There is a close relationship between excessivesodium intake and fluid retention. The American Heart Association andAmerican College of Cardiology recommend 2000-3000 mg daily sodiumintake (Guptaet al., 2012). However, for congestive heart failurepatients who have volume overload, they should take 2000 mg/d. Heartfailure result in elevated systemic venous pressure, reduced cardiacoutput as well as the diversion of blood away from the kidneys. Thisreaction results in reduced renal perfusion which in turn activatethe renin-angiotensin aldosterone system as well as the sympatheticnervous system. The activation of these two systems result in waterand sodium retention even in the presence of fluid overload (Guptaet al., 2012). Dietary sodium restriction results infurther neurohormonal activation in patients with heart failure.Animal studies have shown that restricted sodium intake decreasescardiac output while increasing in vascular resistance following theactivation of the renin angiotensin aldosterone system (Guptaet al., 2012).

While lowering the sodium intake is crucial to managing congestiveheart failure, there is a need for patients to ensure adequatepotassium intake (Harvard Health Publication, 2014). 3 Assuch, patients suffering from this condition should eat a variety ofvegetables and fruits daily. Potassium plays a vital in controllingthe electrical balance of the heart as well as in metabolizingcarbohydrates and building muscle. On the other hand, low potassiumlevels weaken the heart muscles resulting in heart rhythmdisturbances (Harvard Health Publication, 2014). However, highpotassium levels can lead to heartbeat irregularities which may befatal. As such, patients with congestive heart failure need to payclose attention to the amount of potassium they consume each day.However, some drugs prescribed for the treatment of congestive heartfailure are known to result in excess excretion of potassium. Assuch, patients with this condition need to have their potassiumlevels checked regularly to know whether they need to increase orreduce their potassium intake (Harvard Health Publication, 2014).

Patients suffering from congestive heart failure should desist fromconsuming food that contains high saturated fat. Such foods raise thelevel of cholesterol in the body and this, in turn, increases therisk of stroke which may worsen congestive heart failure. Also, foodwith high saturated fat increases cholesterol build up in thearteries, and this raises the risk of the patient developing stroke(Mayo Clinic, 2016). Some of the foods that contain a high amount ofsaturated food include fatty beef, pork, butter, cheese, and lamb,among other animal products. Excess alcohol intake may also worsencongestive heart failure. As such, patients with this conditionshould avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages.

In conclusion, thousands of patients succumb to congestive heartfailure every year in America. The condition is managed withmedication and proper diet. The goal of medication is to improve thequality of life of the patients living with this condition. This isachieved through lowering the chances of the development of otherconditions associated with congestive heart failure such as strokeand reducing the severity of symptoms. On the other hand, propernutrition entails reducing sodium intake while ensuring adequatepotassium in the body. Also, patients with congestive heart failureshould lower the amount of saturated fat they consume daily.


Group Health. (2014). Medicine for Congestive Heart Failure.”Accessedon November 6, 2016.

Gupta, D.,Georgiopoulou, V. V., Kalogeropoulos, A. P., Dunbar, S. B., Reilly,C. M., Sands, J. M., &amp Butler, J. (2012). Dietary sodium intakein heart failure.&nbspCirculation,&nbsp126(4),479-485.

Harvard Health Publication. (2014). “Heart Failure and Potassium.“Heart failure and Potassium.” Accessed on November 6, 2016.

Mayo Clinic. (2016). Heart failure: Treatment and drugs.:

National Institute of Health, (2016). “ How is heart FailureTreated.” Accessed on November 6, 2016.


1Over-the-counter medicine are drugs sold directly to theconsumer without a doctor’s prescription.

2Normal heart ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

3 Some of the fruits and vegetables that have a highpotassium content include winter squash, coconut, kiwis, artichokes,potatoes, oranges, broccoli, avocado, and bananas. On the other hand,blueberries, grapefruit, strawberries, and cucumbers have lowpotassium content.