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Heart Failure Treatment Options

Treatment for heart failure depends on the cause of your child's problems. Your child’s medical team will identify the type of heart failure and talk with you about treatments.

Treatment for heart failure from structural heart disease

If your child was born with a heart problem that causes overcirculation (congenital defect), the doctor may first treat your child with medicine. These medicines can help:

  • Lower the excessive volume of blood
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve pumping

Since overcirculation causes poor growth, the doctor may consider giving your child nutritional supplements.

After treatment, your child’s condition and symptoms may improve. Doctors call this compensated heart failure. Even though symptoms are better, the underlying problem that caused your child's overcirculation may still exist. Your child eventually may need surgery to repair the problem.

Treatment for heart failure from heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy)

If heart muscle disease causes your child's problem, the doctor may first treat your child with medicines. At times, such as when a heart valve is damaged, children may also need surgery.

If a heartbeat that is too slow causes your child's heart failure, the doctor may recommend installing a pacemaker. These small, battery-operated devices are like tiny computers. Doctors place them under your child’s skin. A tiny wire connects the pacemaker to your child's heart. Pacemakers help your child's heart maintain a normal rate.

If a heartbeat that is too fast causes your child's heart failure, the doctor may recommend medicines to control the heartbeat. Sometimes doctors recommend a procedure called radiofrequency ablation. The procedure corrects abnormal heart rhythms by applying short bursts of radio waves to the area of the heart muscle that is causing the fast heart beat.

Heart Transplant

As heart failure progresses, your child may need more therapy. They may need to stay in the hospital for longer periods of time.

If other treatment options do not work for your child, doctors may recommend a heart transplant. For more about heart transplants at Seattle Children's, please see What to Expect If Your Child Needs a Heart Transplant.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)