Heart Failure Exacerbations
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Heart failure exacerbations are a worsening of symptoms.
Symptoms may be made worse by trouble with the treatment plan, other illness, or progression of disease. Examples include:
Factors that raise the risk of heart failure exacerbations are:
People with heart failure exacerbations have heart failure symptoms that have gotten worse. It may include one or more of the following:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and history of heart failure. A physical exam will be done. Your blood and urine will be tested.
Tests will be done to view your heart and see how it is working. This can be done with:
Treatment steps will depend on what is making your symptoms worse. Infections or other medical conditions will need to be treated. Medical care can help to support your heart until the issue has passed.
Your overall treatment plan may also need to be changed. Keep in touch with your care team. Let them know how your treatment plan is working. Some steps include:
To help ease stress on the heart:
Medicines may need to be changed. New medicine may be needed. Options include:
You may also be given medicine to:
Note: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can worsen your heart failure. Talk to your doctor about other medicines you may be able to take.
The heart may need extra support to work well. Surgery options may include:
Your care team may begin to talk to you about a heart transplant. You will need to be added to a wait list for a donor heart. This is not an option for everyone.
Exacerbations cannot always be prevented. Following your care plan can help your heart stay as healthy as possible.
American Heart Association
Heart Failure Association of America
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Acute heart failure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114879. Updated February 20, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Heart failure: rehabilitation. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated November 9, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2019.
Treatment options for heart failure. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/treatment-options-for-heart-failure. Updated April 30, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Peter Oettgen, MD
Last Updated: 5/21/2019
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