\nHeart failure happens over time as the heart weakens and isn’t able to pump as well as it used to. Fluid starts to build up in your lungs and body tissue, causing swelling, shortness of breath, and fatigue.\nApproaches to heart failure treatment vary by the cause of failure, type of failure, and severity of your condition. Usually, some combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery are needed to strengthen your heart and reduce symptoms.\nTreatment focuses on one of three goals:\n\nRecovery\nRepair\nReplacement\n\nHeart Recovery\nRecovery looks at ways to help your heart strengthen itself. Make sure you quit smoking, follow a healthy diet that is low in sodium, and add in regular exercise, as these are essential to building up your heart.\nMedication may also be part of allowing your heart to recover by helping your heart work more efficiently. Medications also help reduce symptoms. Common heart failure medications include:\n\nBeta blockers to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate.\nAngiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors lower the workload of the heart, helping to slow heart failure and lessen your symptoms.\nHydralazine and nitrates to relax the blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure and making your heart have to do less work. These may be prescribed for people who can’t take ACE inhibitors.\nDiuretics help you pass fluid out of your body to reduce swelling.\n\nYour doctor will also help you manage any conditions that led to heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.\nHeart Repair\nWhen heart failure is more severe or medical management isn’t helping enough, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the damage.\nHeart surgeons can remove or rebuild damaged part parts of heart valve tissue or even replace severely damaged valves and blood vessels.\nIn some cases, you may want to consider a pacemaker. A pacemaker is an implanted device that sends electrical pulses to your heart. This helps the ventricles pump blood at the same rate and can slow the progression of heart failure.\nHeart Replacement\nWhen other options aren’t helping, your doctor may consider a ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as an artificial heart, or a heart replacement. Your doctor will talk with you about whether you are a candidate for these options.\nHeart failure is a chronic condition. It’s important to work with your doctor to develop a heart failure treatment plan that gives your heart support and the chance to heal.\nTo learn more about heart failure treatment and management, visit the UPMC Advanced Heart Failure Center. Want to learn more about heart failure in general?\u00a0View our heart failure infographic.