Heart and Blood Conditions

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Doctors use many different treatments to lower the workload of the heart in children with heart failure. The goals are to control extra water and to improve the heart's ability to pump.

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment Options


Diuretics help the kidneys rid the body of extra water. This lowers the amount of fluid in the lungs and improves circulation.

Other medicines are used to control the blood pressure and the heart's contractions. To help the heart pump better, doctors use medicines such as these:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which lower blood pressure
  • Beta-blockers, which lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Digoxin, which makes the heart beat slower and with more force

Other treatments

Doctors also try to find and treat any condition that caused the heart failure. Some children need other treatments, such as surgery to repair a heart defect or medicine for arrhythmia.

Bridge to transplant

Some patients need more than medicines to help the heart pump. For some of those patients, a ventricular assist device (or mechanical pump) can be used. Most patients who receive a ventricular assist device (VAD) will be listed for a heart transplant.


Julie’s Story – From Failing Heart to Transplant

When myocarditis suddenly threatened her life, Julie traveled from Hawaii to Seattle Children’s to receive a HeartMate II ventricular assist device (VAD). The VAD kept Julie healthy enough to wait for a heart transplant -- and gave her the chance to build her first snowman.

Read about how Julie's VAD kept her heart going until a successful transplant.


If the heart is too damaged, a heart transplant may be needed. The heart transplant team at Seattle Children's performs 10 to 15 transplants each year for children with this or other heart problems that cannot be controlled using other treatments. Read more about our heart transplant program.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.