Q: How is heart failure diagnosed?
A: Heart failure is diagnosed through a combination of these evaluations and tests:
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- Chest x-ray
- EKG also called electrocardiogram
- Ultrasound of the heart
- Heart catheterization
Q: What are the symptoms of heart failure?
A: A person with heart failure may have the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing, especially when lying down
- Swollen feet, ankles, and legs
- Unexplained weight gain that happens quickly
- Abdominal swelling and/or pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dizziness or fainting
Q: How is heart failure managed?
A: Your doctor will try to correct any treatable cause of heart failure. He or she will also address possible complications of heart failure. In some cases, this may mean referring you to a specialist.
Eating healthy is important. You especially want to limit your salt and fluid intake. You should also manage your weight and exercise as much as you safely can. All of these things are important in managing heart failure.
Your doctor may also want you to take one or more of the following types of medicine:
- Diuretic (water pill)
- Blood pressure medications
- Digitalis (medication to help with heart function)
You will have the best chance of preventing or controlling heart failure if you are engaged in your own health. This means asking your provider questions and sticking to your treatment plan. It is also important to fix unhealthy habits and to know when to seek help.