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How to Treat Cardiomyopathy
When heart failure is due to blockages in the coronary arteries, treatment directed at relieving these blockages through angioplasty , stent placement , or coronary artery bypass surgery may lead to improvements in heart function and symptoms. For certain genetic causes, other treatments may also lead to improvements in function. For many patients, however, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and prevent further damage.
Changes aim to eliminate anything that contributes to the disease or worsens symptoms:
- Avoid alcohol.
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Eat a low-fat diet to minimize the risk and extent of coronary artery disease.
- Limit salt intake to decrease fluid retention.
- Follow your doctor's advice for exercise. You may need to limit physical activity.
Medications may include:
- Diuretics-to eliminate extra fluid
- ACE inhibitors-to help relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and decrease the heart's workload
- Digitalis-to slow and regulate the heart rate, and modestly increase its force of contractions
- Calcium channel blockers-to lower blood pressure and relax the heart
- Beta blockers-to slow the heart and limit disease progression
- Anti-arrhythmia agents-to prevent irregular heart rhythms
- Immune system suppressants-including steroids, depending on underlying cause
Surgical options include:
- A pacemaker may be implanted to improve the heart rate and pattern.
- For patients with hypertrophic disease, doctors may remove part of the thickened wall separating the heart's chambers. Surgery may be needed to replace a heart valve.
- A heart transplant may be possible for otherwise healthy patients who do not respond to medical treatment. Candidates often wait a long time for a new heart. Those waiting may temporarily receive a ventricular assist device, which is a mechanical pump that assumes some or most of the heart's pumping function.