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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Heart Failure: Evaluating Your HeartInsuficiencia card­aca: La evaluaci³n de su coraz³n

Heart Failure: Evaluating Your Heart

To evaluate your condition, your doctor will examine you, ask questions, and run tests. Along with looking for signs of heart failure, the doctor looks for any other health problems that may have led to heart failure. The results of your evaluation will help your doctor form a treatment plan.

Health History and Physical Exam

Your visit will start with a health history. Tell the doctor about any symptoms you've noticed and about all medications you take. Then you'll have a physical exam. This includes listening to your heartbeat and breathing. You'll also be checked for edema (swelling).

Diagnosing Heart Failure

During an echocardiogram, sound waves bounce off the heart. These are converted into a picture on the screen.

The following may be done to help your doctor form a diagnosis:

  • X-rays show the size and shape of your heart. These pictures can also show fluid in your lungs.

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) shows the pattern of your heartbeat. Small pads (electrodes) are placed on your chest, arms, and legs. Wires connect the pads to the ECG machine, which records your heart's electrical signals.

  • An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to show the structure and movement of your heart muscle. This shows how well the heart pumps. It also shows the thickness of the heart walls, and if the heart is enlarged.

  • Lab tests evaluate small amounts of blood or urine for signs of problems.

Your Treatment Plan

Based on the results of your evaluation and tests, your doctor will develop a treatment plan. This plan is designed to relieve some of your heart failure symptoms and help make you more comfortable. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Medications to help your heart work better and improve your quality of life.

  • Changes in what you eat and drink to help prevent fluid from backing up in your body.

  • Daily monitoring of your weight and heart failure symptoms to see how well your treatment plan is working.

  • Exercise to help you stay healthy.

  • Help with quitting smoking.

Publication Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Online Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-09-15T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2009-04-30T00:00:00-06:00

Jay L. Jordan, MD, is an experienced cardiologist and internal medicine physician who provides a comprehensive range of cardiac care services in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Glendale, Burbank, Calabasas and nearby communities. Take the first step in preventing and controlling heart disease with symptoms such as angina, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, carotid artery disease, chest pain, congestive heart failure, coronary vascular disease, hypertension, palpitations, shortness of breath and stroke. Call Dr. Jay L. Jordan at 310-854-5493 or request an appointment online.

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