Assessment of Heart Failure

How Heart Failure is diagnosed

If you have symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may offer you some checks and blood tests to see how well your heart is working.

Blood Tests

• The blood tests may include testing for electrolytes and kidney function.
• BNP: Brain natriuretic peptide, also called B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), is a protein that your heart and blood vessels make. BNP helps your body eliminate fluids, relaxes blood vessels, and moves sodium into your urine. Normal BNP levels vary according to age and gender and whether you are overweight. When your heart is damaged, your body secretes high levels of BNP into your bloodstream to try to ease the strain on your heart.

Echocardiogram (Echo)

A pain-free test that uses ultrasound to show a movie of the heart in action and tells size and shape of your heart, how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working, how much blood the heart can pump with each beat (also called ejection fraction, normal is 50-70%).

Other Tests

• Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) – a pain-free test that records the electrical activity of your heart
• Chest X-ray – a pain-free test that produces a picture of the heart and lungs