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- Atrial Fibrillation Slideshow: Causes, Tests and Treatment
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- Patient Comments: Heart Failure - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Heart Failure - Treatments
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
- What Is Heart Failure?
- What Causes Heart Failure?
- What Are the Symptoms of Heart Failure?
- What Are the Types of Heart Failure?
- How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?
- How Is Heart Failure Treated?
- Stages of Heart Failure
- How Can I Prevent Heart Failure From Worsening?
- How Can I Prevent Further Heart Damage?
- What Medications Should I Avoid?
- How Can I Improve My Quality of Life?
- What Surgical Procedures Are Used to Treat Heart Failure?
- Treatment Is a Team Effort
- What Is the Outlook for People With Heart Failure?
Quick GuideHeart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack
What Are the Types of Heart Failure?
Systolic dysfunction (or systolic heart failure) occurs when the heart muscle doesn't contract with enough force, so there is less oxygen-rich blood that is pumped throughout the body.
Diastolic dysfunction (or diastolic heart failure) occurs when the heart contracts normally, but the ventricles do not relax properly or are stiff, and less blood enters the heart during normal filling.
A calculation done during an echocardiogram called the ejection fraction (EF) is used measure how well your heart pumps with each beat to help determine if systolic or diastolic dysfunction is present. Your doctor can discuss which condition you have.
How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you many questions about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked about any conditions you have that may cause heart failure (such as coronary artery disease, angina, diabetes, heart valve disease and high blood pressure). You will be asked if you smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol (and how much you drink), and about what medications you take.
You will also get a complete physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your heart and look for for signs of heart failure as well as other illnesses that may have caused your heart muscle to weaken or stiffen.
Your doctor may also order other tests to determine the cause and severity of your heart failure. These include:
- Blood tests. Blood tests are used to evaluate kidney and thyroid function as well as to check cholesterol levels and the presence of anemia. Anemia is a blood condition that occurs when there is not enough hemoglobin (the substance in red blood cells that enables the blood to transport oxygen through the body) in a person's blood.
- B-type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) blood test. BNP is a substance secreted from the heart in response to changes in blood pressure that occur when heart failure develops or worsens. BNP blood levels increase when heart failure symptoms worsen, and decrease when the heart failure condition is stable. The BNP level in a person with heart failure -- even someone whose condition is stable -- is higher than in a person with normal heart function.
- Chest X-ray. Chest X-ray shows the size of your heart and whether there is fluid build-up around the heart and lungs.
- Echocardiogram. This test shows the heart's movement.
- Ejection fraction (EF). A test called the ejection fraction (EF) is used to measure how well your heart pumps with each beat to determine if systolic dysfunction or heart failure with preserved left ventricular function are present. Your doctor can discuss which condition is present in your heart.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). EKG records the electrical impulses traveling through the heart.
- Cardiac catherization
- Stress Test
Other tests may be ordered, depending on your condition.