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Heart Failure Treatment

Heart disease and other conditions can weaken the heart, leading to heart failure over time. Treatments, such as medications, medical devices and surgery, can manage these conditions and delay or prevent worsening symptoms. 

At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, we offer all the latest treatment options for heart failure. Our cardiologists, heart surgeons and other providers are highly skilled in treating heart failure and its underlying causes. Our therapies help relieve your symptoms so you can get back to the activities you enjoy.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the body. It doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped working, but heart failure gradually worsens and can cause more serious conditions. Learn more about the symptoms of heart failure and conditions that can cause it.

Heart Failure Treatments

Our teams of specialized cardiologists, heart surgeons, nurses and other providers are international leaders in heart failure care. Every year, we diagnose and treat more than 1,000 new patients and help more than 7,000 others manage heart failure symptoms. 

Our specialists create personalized treatment plans to relieve your symptoms and keep your heart from further weakening. Depending on your specific case, we usually begin with conservative treatment options.

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes can improve your health and help you feel better. The same healthy habits for preventing heart disease can also help manage heart failure and its causes. Learn more about our recommendations and services for heart disease prevention.

Medications for heart failure

Medications ease the workload on your heart so that it can pump more efficiently. Depending on the causes of heart failure, you may need one or more medications, such as:

  • ACE inhibitors to relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure
  • aldosterone antagonists to help remove excess sodium and fluid
  • angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) to lower your blood pressure if ACE inhibitors aren’t right for you
  • angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs) to help open arteries, improve blood flow and reduce sodium retention
  • beta blockers to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure
  • digoxin to strengthen your heart’s muscle contractions to pump more blood
  • diuretics (water pills) to reduce fluid buildup in your lungs, ankles and feet
  • inotropes to slow your heart rate and help the heart pump more effectively with fewer contractions
  • sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors to help remove excess sodium and glucose (sugar) to reduce fluid buildup

Heart failure devices and surgery

If heart failure becomes severe, you may need surgery for an implantable device or heart transplant. Our experienced team of heart surgeons is highly skilled in the most advanced surgical procedures for heart failure. 

We are the only hospital within several hundred miles of St. Louis offering left ventricular assist device implantation and heart transplant surgeries. Learn more about our approach to heart failure and transplantation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Surgery for other cardiovascular diseases

Doctors can treat — and sometimes reverse — heart failure by treating the underlying cause. Procedures to repair a heart valve or control an irregular heart rhythm, for example, are treatments that provide solutions. Find out more about our surgeries to treat all kinds of heart and vascular diseases that can lead to heart failure:

Diagnosing Heart Failure

Getting the best possible treatment for heart failure starts with an accurate diagnosis. Our team includes expert technologists for cardiac imaging and cardiovascular pathologists who interpret test results. Learn more about our process for diagnosing heart failure.

Our Heart Failure Team

Our heart failure team includes: 

  • cardiologists, doctors who provide nonsurgical care to diagnose and treat heart conditions
  • cardiac (heart) surgeons who specialize in surgeries to implant mechanical heart devices and provide heart transplants
  • electrophysiologists, cardiologists who diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
  • interventional cardiologists who perform minimally invasive procedures using catheters
  • cardiovascular pathologists who specialize in analyzing and interpreting heart imaging studies, biopsies and other test results to help diagnose heart diseases
  • imaging technologists who obtain detailed images of the heart using specialized methods
  • expert nurses with specialty training and experience in cardiac care
  • other providers such as social workers, dietitians and physical therapists who provide treatment and support services 

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart failure specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 888-230-8832.