Specific treatment for heart failure will be determined by your child's health care provider based on:
- Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the disease
- Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
If heart failure is caused by a congenital (present at birth) heart defect or an acquired heart problem such as rheumatic valve disease, surgical repair of the problem may be necessary. Medications or pacemakers are often helpful in treating heart failure initially. Eventually, medications may lose their effectiveness and many congenital heart defects will need to be repaired surgically. Medications may also be used after surgery to help improve heart function during the healing period.
Medications and pacemakers that are commonly prescribed to treat heart failure in children may include some of the following:
- Digoxin. A medication that can help the heart beat stronger with a more regular rhythm.
- Diuretics. Helps the kidneys remove excess fluid from the body.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics. Helps the body retain potassium, an important mineral and electrolyte that is often lost when taking diuretics.
- ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors. Help to dilate the blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood forward into the body.
- Beta blockers. Decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, allowing the heart to pump more efficiently.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy, or device therapy, is a newer treatment for heart failure. Device therapy uses a special type of pacemaker that paces both sides of the heart simultaneously to coordinate contractions and improve pumping ability.
For more specific information regarding heart failure treatment, consult your child's health care provider.