Heart Failure Treatment

Heart failure is an increasingly complex and common condition. According to recent statistics from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one in five people will develop heart failure in their lifetime. Heart failure is challenging to manage because many people with the condition also have coronary heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Treatment options for heart failure patients at UVA include:

  • Medications
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Device implants
  • Pacemakers
  • Surgery 
  • Transplant

We can provide patients with a number of medical and surgical approaches to manage heart failure.

Taking Your Medication

Medications help reduce the work of your heart and may help your heart beat stronger. 

It's important to fill your prescriptions regularly without missing a dose. Even if you feel better, don't stop taking medicine without talking to your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Changes

Diet, exercise and other healthy habits can help control symptoms of heart failure and improve your overall health and well-being. The following lifestyle changes can help:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight if necessary
  • Eat a healthy diet that's low in fat and salt, and high in fiber
  • Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program
  • Manage your stress

Some patients also need fluid restrictions that limit them to 2 liters per day.

Device Implants

We treat heart failure with implanted devices including:

Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators

Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) are small, battery-powered devices that generate electrical impulses and perform biventricular pacing.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

This treatment uses a special pacemaker that synchs the left and right ventricles of heart failure patients. This can be combined with an implantable cardiac defibrillator.

Mechanical-Assist Devices

Your doctor works with you to choose a device that best fits your needs. We provide the following assist devices.

  • An intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) increases cardiac output and blood flow.
  • Temporary assist devices are mechanical pumps that help the heart pump blood through the body. They allow the heart to stabilize while you and your care team decide what other treatment options are best. 
  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are permanent mechanical pumps that help the heart pump blood through the body.

Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs)

LVADs are a therapy for end-stage heart failure and an alternative to heart transplant for some patients.

UVA is a Center for Destination VADs. Unlike other centers that can only use VADs while patients wait for a transplant, we can put one in for non-transplant patients. Older patients or those with other conditions that prevent them from being transplant recipients benefit from VADs that help extend their life.


CardioMEMS is a small, wireless pressure sensor that is permanently implanted in the distal pulmonary artery and provides non-invasive hemodynamic pressure readings. The readings are wirelessly transmitted to a database your doctor accesses at our Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center. This allows us to closely monitor our heart failure patients and provide early treatment to prevent hospital readmissions and improve your quality of life.   

Surgery and Transplant

We also treat heart failure with surgical alternatives to transplant, including left-ventricular remodeling, which can increase the pumping efficiency of the heart tissue and valve surgery to replace poorly functioning valves.

We perform heart transplants for the most severe heart failure cases.

Support & Palliative Care

We've revamped the idea of palliative care to include supportive care for the living.

Our team's multidisciplinary approach includes:

  • Valve repair specialists
  • Heart rhythm specialists
  • Nutritionists
  • Physical and occupational therapists

Clinical Trials

We participate in a number of clinical trials to find better ways to treat heart failure. Clinical trials can give you access to the latest advanced treatments. Find out if you qualify for a clinical trial.


Call 434.243.1000.

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