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How is congestive heart failure managed?

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Doctors manage congestive heart failure in most patients by prescribing a combination of medications and recommending lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, weight monitoring and a restricted-salt diet, explains Mayo Clinic. Some patients also receive surgically implanted devices, such as heart pumps and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, that help regulate the heart's function. Coronary bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement, and heart transplantation are other surgical procedures doctors sometimes perform to treat congestive heart failure.

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Patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure may take medications that include angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta blockers, aldosterone antagonists and diuretics, states Mayo Clinic. Angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors address congestive heart failure symptoms by widening the blood vessels, which increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure and decreases the amount of work the heart must perform. Beta blockers decrease heart rate and lower blood pressure in order to minimize or even reverse damage to the heart muscle from congestive heart failure.

Diuretics prevent fluid buildup from congestive heart failure by lowering fluid levels in the lungs, reducing shortness of breath, notes Mayo Clinic, but they also cause patients to urinate more frequently. Aldosterone antagonists are a specific type of diuretics that don't cause the body to lose potassium.

Patients can restrict salt from their diets to reduce water retention, which creates strain on the heart, states Mayo Clinic. Doctors often ask patients to weigh themselves regularly to monitor weight gain from fluid retention and to check the lower extremities for swelling, which also signals fluid retention. Doctors advise patients to stay active, stop smoking and limit fluids.

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