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Living with congestive heart failure

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Dr. Jeff Harp of Highland Family Medicine continued our conversation on congestive heart failure and treatment options that are available Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

This was part two of our discussion on congestive heart failure.

“The heart pumps, and heart failure is when the heart fails to pump as effectively as it should,” said Dr. Harp. “It’s not getting blood through the body the way that it ought to.”

Dr. Harp said there are way to treat congestive heart failure, and the mainstay is medications. “There’s a combination of medications that most people with heart failure will be taking. They’re things like ACE Inhibitors, Angiotensin Receptor Blockers, Beta Blockers, Spironolactone. All these kinds of things add to the successful treatment of heart failure. It’s those kinds of things, medications. Then there are actually some devices that can be helpful. For some people, a defibrillator implanted into their heart, and a pacemaker that helps to re-coordinate the way that the heart is beating, can be helpful. A combination of technology and medicines is the usual way that it’s treated.”

He added, “Generally, people with heart failure will be seeing their primary care clinician — someone like myself — and also seeing a cardiologist. Depending on the severity, they’ll see their cardiologist more or less. People with severe heart failure will be be supervised a little bit more by a cardiologist. People whose heart failure is better controlled, will be seen by their primary care clinician.”

Dr. Harp said there are natural treatments that can be helpful as well when it comes to congestive heart failure. “There’s good evidence that exercise is helpful,” he said. “People with heart failure, the more that they exercise, the more efficient that their heart gets. There’s evidence for doing Tai Chi and other relaxation-type things that help people’s bodies to relax and the blood to flow better. There’s even evidence for some natural herbs, like Hawthorn, has been shown to be helpful. Somebody who likes to do the more natural thing should ask their primary care clinician about that – maybe even work with someone who’s more familiar with naturopathy around some things that might be helpful in that area.”

For more information about congestive heart failure and treatment options, visit the CDC website, click here.

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