Treatment of Cardiac Insufficiency

Reading time: 4 min

There is no curative treatment for heart failure. All attempts to manage the disease involve following recommendations concerning diet, exercise and other habits to alleviate symptoms, reduce disease progression and improve their quality of life, accompanied by a drug treatment. 

Cigarette crossed out on a "no smoking" poster

Suprimir completamente el consumo de tabaco o de alcohol, sea cual sea la causa del fallo cardíaco. 

Scale with a down arrow indicating a weight loss

Si es necesario, perder peso.

Man running; regular physical exercise

Mantener una vida activa y evitar el sedentarismo. Se debe practicar un ejercicio físico adecuado a las capacidades de la persona y su estado cardíaco. Las actividades recomendadas más frecuentes son caminar, nadar o pasear en bicicleta. Es importante evitar aquellos ejercicios que supongan grandes esfuerzos y evitar las horas del día de más calor, humedad o frío. 


Es recomendable seguir una alimentación equilibrada y suprimir o evitar la cafeína, así como moderar el consumo de grasas y sal porque provoca retención de líquidos. 

Person sleeping on a bed

Dormir al menos 7-8 horas. Es muy importante descansar. 

Your cardiologist will prescribe the correct drugs and doses to take; they may later modify these instructions as the condition develops. 

Pills with green and white stripes

Diuretics. This group of drugs helps the kidneys expel excess sodium and water, i.e., they help eliminate any accumulated fluids. They usually take effect 2–3 hours after administration when taken orally. Patients normally take them first thing in the morning and then, if necessary, another dose at midday. You should not take them at night to avoid interrupting your sleep. 

Pills with blue and white stripes

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEIs). These drugs stop the body from creating a substance called angiotensin that causes the blood vessels to contract and therefore produce high blood pressure. ACEIs have been proven to reduce the hospitalisation period for heart failure and increase patient survival. 

Blue, white and green pills

Beta-blockers. Beta-blockers reduce heart rate and blood pressure so the heart is under less strain. This group of drugs have also been shown to reduce the hospitalisation period and increase patient survival.

Round pills

Vasodilators. These drugs dilate or relax blood vessel walls so blood can circulate more easily; this reduces the strain on the heart. 

Green, blue and white striped pills

Digitalis-based drugs. Digitalis-based drugs strengthen the heart’s pumping action and increase its ability to contract, thus eradicating the irregular rhythm.

If the cardiac insufficiency derives from ischaemic cardiomyopathy, then the cardiologist may resolve the coronary vessel obstruction by one of two techniques:

Stent or dock

Revascularización del vaso con la implantación de un muelle (stent coronario); 

Scalpel and scissors

Procedimiento quirúrgico, en el cual se realizan puentes entre la arteria aorta y las arterias coronarias, de forma que se reconectan vasos para evitar la obstrucción. 

If the heart failure is caused by valvular heart disease, then they can be repaired surgically or replaced with artificial valves.

Scalpel and scissors

Heart transplant. In very specific cases, the final therapeutic option may be a heart transplant. This option is only performed in highly specialised centres and requires a complex post-op monitoring protocol. 

Ventricular Assist Device

Ventricular assist device. As occurs with heart transplants, only in certain cases and based on the cardiologist’s expert opinion, these devices equipped with a small motor are implanted in the heart so they can help pump blood to the rest of the body. 

Substantiated information by:

Evelyn Santiago Vacas
Felix Pérez Villa
Josefina Casal Rodríguez

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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