Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to support the needs of the body, resulting in a wide range of cardiovascular symptoms and complications. It is a debilitating condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide each year, leading to decreased quality of life, costly hospitalisations, and premature death. Effective diagnosis of heart failure is significant for its successful management. Early diagnosis of heart failure is crucial for identifying individuals at risk for developing this condition and instituting modifiable lifestyle and pharmacological interventions to reduce the risk of progression to severe heart failure.
In recent years, cardiac biomarkers and risk factors have been extensively studied in the early diagnosis of heart failure. Identifying individuals in the early stages of this disease process is very effective.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
Symptoms of heart failure usually come gradually and often occur during physical activity. However, these symptoms may occur even at rest as the condition advances. Symptoms of heart disease are –
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue, weakness
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Difficulty sleeping
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular or rapid pulse
Types of Heart Failure
Heart failure is a medical condition wherein the heart cannot pump blood effectively per the body’s needs. Heart failure is of different types and is classified based on the side of the heart affected or the underlying cause. These are –
- Left-sided Heart Failure – It is a common type of heart failure. In this condition, the left side of the heart fails to pump blood adequately. It can be of two types-
- Diastolic Heart Failure – In this type of heart failure, the left ventricle becomes stiff and cannot relax properly. This impairs its ability to fill with blood.
- Systolic Heart Failure – In this condition, the left ventricle becomes weak and cannot contract forcefully enough to pump blood effectively.
- Right-sided Heart Failure – In this condition, the right side of the heart cannot pump blood adequately. It leads to the accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues. Left-sided heart failure, congenital heart defects, and lung disease may cause it.
- High-output Heart Failure – This heart failure occurs when the heart pumps more blood than normal but cannot meet the body’s demands. Arteriovenous malformations, hyperthyroidism, and anaemia cause it.
- Acute Heart Failure – In this condition, there is a sudden onset of heart failure symptoms and requires immediate treatment.
- Chronic Heart Failure – This type of heart failure deteriorates over time and continues for a long time.
Type of Heart Failure Diagnosis
Doctors usually do a series of tests and evaluations to diagnose heart disease. Sometimes, these may be used as a screening test for cardiovascular disease before noticeable symptoms develop.
Physical exam and blood test of Heart Failure
- During the physical examination, doctors ask about symptoms and family medical history and evaluate heart rate and blood pressure.
- Doctors usually order blood tests such as a cholesterol test to evaluate the level of fat and cholesterol in the blood to help determine the risk of heart disease.
- The total cholesterol test measures four types of blood:
- Total cholesterol refers to the cumulative level of cholesterol in your blood.
- HDL cholesterol, known as good cholesterol, helps eliminate LDL cholesterol and keep your arteries clean
- LDL cholesterol, also refer as bad cholesterol; if LDL is excessively high and can result in an accumulation of fat in your arteries
- Triglycerides, a type of fat, are also assessed in blood tests. Elevated triglycerides are often associated with smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- CRP, called C reactive protein tests, may be conducted to identify signs of inflammation in the body. CRP and cholesterol test results help doctors evaluate your risk of cardiovascular disease
Non Invasive Tests
- Monitors the heart’s electrical activity using electrodes attached to the body.
- It helps detect irregular heartbeats or heart damage.
- Assess cardiac activity during physical activity, such as engaging in a stationary cycle or treadmill.
- Track your increased heart rate and your body’s response to stress.
- A portable device that records cardiac electrical activity.
- Detects heart abnormalities such as arrhythmias that conventional ECG cannot detect.
- Obtain images of the chest, including the heart, using low-level radiation.
- It helps determine the cause of chest pain or shortness of breath.
- Multiple X-ray images produce cross-sectional images of the heart.
- A screening heart scan using a calcium scale detects calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, and coronary CT angiography detects fatty or calcium deposits in the arteries.
- It uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the heart and vascular structure.
- It helps diagnose conditions such as heart muscle disease and coronary heart disease.
Invasive of Heart Failure
Invasive procedures use instruments implanted in the body when noninvasive tests do not provide sufficient diagnostic information about heart disease.
- Coronary angiography and cardiac catheterisation involve inserting a flexible tube through a blood vessel and advancing it toward the heart to evaluate blood vessel problems and heart abnormalities.
- Coronary angiography is often performed during catheterisation and uses dye and X-ray imaging to visualise narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
- Electrophysiological studies are done to determine the cause of the abnormal heart rhythm and treatment options. During this procedure, catheter electrodes are inserted through blood vessels and into the heart to map electrical activity.
Depending on the result, medications or other treatments may be prescribed to restore normal health rhythm.
Heart Failure Diagnosis based on gender and age
Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in men and women is different. For example, men often have chest pain, while women may have atypical symptoms. Diagnosis of paediatric patients may include expert evaluation, including echocardiography, genetic testing, and paediatric cardiology experience. Older patients’ diagnoses may consider age-related change, comorbidities, and specific approaches to risk assessment.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert cardiology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
Q. How is heart disease diagnosed?
A. Cardiovascular disease is diagnosed through medical evaluation, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests may include blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, stress tests, cardiac catheterisation, and imaging test such as CT and MRI of the heart. These tests help evaluate heart function, identify abnormalities, and evaluate for blockages or other problems in the heart and blood vessels.
Q. What tests are used to diagnose heart disease?
A. Tests used to diagnose heart disease include an electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, stress tests, cardiac catheterisation, and imaging tests such as CT and MRI of the heart.
Q. How accurate are diagnostic tests for heart disease?
A. Diagnosis tests for heart disease are generally accurate but not error-free. In addition, differences in accuracy exist between the various tests and evaluated conditions.
Q. What should I expect during a heart disease diagnosis appointment?
A. During your visit to a specialist, your doctor will examine your medical history, evaluate your symptoms, and perform physical exams.
Q. How can I prepare for a heart disease diagnosis appointment?
A. Collect your medical history, including previous heart conditions and medications, to prepare for the appointment.