Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Diagnosing congestive heart failure symptoms is usually clinical and is based on the medical history of the patient, as well as a physical exam and various laboratory tests. A careful and thorough look into the history of the patient might actually disclose the overall presence of several congestive heart failure symptoms. Aside from that, a history including severe coronary artery disease before hypertension, heart attacks, alcohol abuse or diabetes could be signs, too.

The Physical Exam

The physical exam itself will focus on looking for extra fluid inside the patient’s body by checking out his breathing sounds and neck veins, and checking whether there is any swelling in his legs. The patient’s heart condition will also be checked very carefully, including its pulse, heart sounds, murmurs and overall heart size.

Other helpful diagnostic tests to check out congestive heart failure symptoms would include chest x-rays and electrocardiograms, or ECGS, to check for previous heart attacks, heart enlargement, fluid in the lungs, and arrhythmia. The most helpful diagnostic test, though, would be the echocardiogram, wherein the ultrasound is put to use to look at the heart’s different muscles, blood flow patterns, and valve structures.

The Echocardiogram

The echocardiogram happens to be very useful in detecting muscle weakness in the heart. Additionally, it can suggest other potential causes for this weakness, like extreme valve abnormalities or previous heart attacks. Practically every patient who has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure will need to go through echocardiography pretty early on.

Heart Exams

Nuclear medicine studies look at the heart’s overall pumping abilities and check out the risk of insufficient blood flow into the heart. Through heart catheterization, it is possible to look at the heart arteries with angiography, which entails putting dye into the blood vessels to make it more visual on x-rays.

During this procedure, any pressure surrounding the heart becomes measurable and the performance of the heart itself will be easier to assess. Every now and then, a biopsy can be done on the tissue of the heart to diagnose congestive heart failure symptoms and other diseases, as well. This can be done with a special catheter that can be placed inside of the veins and moved into the heart.

Blood Tests

Another useful test to diagnose congestive heart failure symptoms would be the B-type natriuretic peptic, or BNP test. This blood test will differ from gender to age, but it can usually help treat congestive heart failure. Naturally, in the end, the tests that are used on the patient will depend on every individual case and their suspected diagnoses, though.

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