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How is Heart Failure Diagnosed?

The heart failure specialists on the medical staff at The Heart Hospital take a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating guests with heart failure.

Your doctor will diagnose heart failure based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. The signs and symptoms of heart failure also are common in other conditions. Thus, your doctor will:

  • Find out whether you have a disease or condition that can cause heart failure, such as coronary heart disease (CHD), high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Rule out other causes of your symptoms
  • Find any damage to your heart and check how well your heart pumps blood

Early diagnosis and treatment can help people who have heart failure live longer and enjoy more active lives.

Medical and Family Histories

Your doctor will ask whether you or others in your family have or have had a disease or condition that can cause heart failure.

Your doctor also will ask about your symptoms. They will want to know which symptoms you have, when they occur, how long you've had them, and how severe they are. Your answers will help show whether and how much your symptoms limit your daily routine.

Physical Exam

During the physical exam, your doctor will:

  • Listen to your heart for sounds that aren't normal
  • Listen to your lungs for the sounds of extra fluid buildup
  • Look for swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and the veins in your neck

Diagnostic Tests

No single test can diagnose heart failure. If you have signs and symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may recommend one or more tests.

Your doctor also may refer you to a cardiologist. A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating heart diseases and conditions.

Possible tests to diagnose heart failure include:

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In some cases, these tests and procedures are provided on an outpatient basis in The Heart Hospital's Outpatient Services​ facility. For a physician referral, patients may call 1.855.506.4415​. Referring physicians may call 469.442.0045 to schedule a patient for evaluation.

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HEART FAILURE