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Right-sided heart failure

  • Alternative Names

    Congestive heart failure - right-sided


    Heart failure requires periodic monitoring by your health care provider. The goals of treatment include controlling the symptoms, reducing the heart's workload, and improving your heart's ability to function. Any underlying disorders and causes should be treated, if possible.

    The most common therapy for right-sided heart failure is treating left-sided heart failure.

    Valve replacements and procedures such as bypass surgery (CABG) and angioplasty are the solution for some people.


    Generally, you must reduce the salt in your food and the amount of liquids you drink. You should also consider losing weight if you are overweight, stopping smoking, and avoiding too much alcohol.


    Diuretics (water pills) can help reduce fluid accumulation. Furosemide or bumetanide can help moderate to severe symptoms. Hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, and chlorothiazide may be used for mild symptoms. Another drug, spironolactone, can prevent salt retention and help patients with severe heart failure.

    Medications that reduce your heart's workload include ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and drugs such as hydralazine and long-acting nitrates. They can prolong the life of very sick patients with failing hearts.

    Beta-blockers (such as metoprolol or carvedilol) can help prevent death in some heart failure patients.

    Digitalis may be prescribed to increase the muscle contraction of the heart and help prevent hospitalization.


    Some patients with ECG abnormalities may benefit from a a biventricular pacemaker, which helps both ventricles contract at the same time (CRT, cardiac resynchronization therapy). A defibrillation device such as an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) helps some patients. CRT and ICD may be combined and implanted in a single device (biventricular pacemaker-ICD).


    A patient with severe heart failure that does not respond to these therapies may require a heart transplant.

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Heart failure is a serious disorder. Everything possible should be done to prevent the heart's pumping problems from getting worse.

    There is no cure, but many forms of heart failure can be controlled with medication, addressing the underlying disorders, and using implanted devices with defibrillation capabilities.

    • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), which may be life-threatening
    • Fainting
    • Repeat hospitalizations
    • Side effects of heart failure medications

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of congestive heart failure and your symptoms change, worsen, or do not improve with treatment.

    Also call if chest pain, weakness, fainting, rapid or irregular heartbeat, sudden weight gain, swelling, or other new or unexplained symptoms develop.