Congestive Heart Failure (cont.)
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Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis
Congestive heart failure CHF can be confused with other illnesses that cause breathing difficulties, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, and asthma. Talking to a medical professional, along with receiving a physical exam and tests available only at a medical office or hospital, are necessary to make an definitive diagnosis. Some of the most useful tests are mentioned below.
Chest X-ray: This is very helpful in identifying the buildup of fluid in the lungs. Also, the heart usually enlarges in congestive heart failure, and this may be visible on the X-ray film. In addition, other disorders may be diagnosed.
Blood tests: People may have blood drawn for lab tests.
Echocardiogram (ECG, EKG): This is a type of ultrasound that shows the beating of the heart and the various cardiac structures. It is safe, painless, and one of the most important tests for diagnosing and following patients with heart failure over time.
Stress testing: A treadmill or medication (nonwalking) stress test is used to help evaluate the cause or causes of heart failure, in particular, regarding coronary artery disease. This test is frequently combined with nuclear imaging or echocardiography to improve accuracy. Stress testing is commonly performed and is a cornerstone of diagnostic cardiology.
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging):
Cardiac catheterization (cath): During this procedure, a small tube is inserted into and artery in the leg or arm. The catheter is moved to the heart to measure pressures inside the heart and to put contrast into the coronary arteries to look for blockages.
Terrence X O'Brien, MD, FACC
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Heart failure is the pathophysiologic state in which the heart, via an abnormality of cardiac function (detectable or not), fails to pump blood at a rate commensurate with the requirements of the metabolizing tissues and/or pumps only from an abnormally elevated diastolic filling pressure.