Home > Health Library > Risks and Benefits of Medicines for Heart Failure
Heart failure is a very serious illness that can cause
life-threatening complications and significantly limit your life span.
Fortunately, many drugs have been shown to slow the progression of heart
failure, and several drugs have been shown to prolong survival. Each of these
medicines has risks and benefits that you and your doctor will need to weigh
when you are deciding whether you should take the medicine.
heart failure help relieve symptoms by:
medicines may help increase the life span of people who have
heart failure. These include:
The exact mechanism by which these medicines prolong
survival is not entirely clear. Each medicine might have several beneficial
effects for people with heart failure. In terms of prolonging survival, the
most important effects may be the ability of these drugs to prevent both lethal
abnormal heart rhythms and their ability to limit ongoing damage to the
Drug or class of drugs
Tailor the decisions you make with your doctor to meet your own personal goals of treatment for your heart failure. Some
decisions are not always completely right or wrong. What is most important is
that you make informed decisions that are right for you and with which you are
In fact, your goals of treatment may change over
time. Early in the course of your treatment, you may want to do everything
possible to extend your life span, even if it means making your symptoms
temporarily worse. A good example of this is starting therapy with a
beta-blocker, which can make your symptoms worse during the first few weeks or
months but eventually may reduce your symptoms and prolong your survival.
But if you develop end-stage heart failure with very severe
symptoms that prevent you from doing even simple activities, you may prefer
treatments that are most effective at reducing your symptoms, even if they may
have some risk of decreasing your survival.
To help you with decision making, the most important things you can do
are: first, keep yourself well informed about the risks and benefits of the
treatments that are available to you, and second, work closely with a doctor whose advice and opinions you trust.
April 26, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Margaret Hetherington, PHM, BsC - Pharmacy
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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