Diagnosing Heart Failure

Updated:Sep 30,2015

First Steps For Getting Diagnosed

It’s always important to have regular check-ups even if you’re not noticing any particular symptoms. If you do notice any of the potential signs of heart failure (HF), take action and talk to a healthcare professional. 

Reporting Symptoms
It may be appropriate to begin testing for heart failure If you or a family member have any of the potential signs of heart failure, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Buildup of excess fluid in body tissues (edema) 
  • Unusual fatigue 
  • Lack of appetite or nausea 
  • Impaired thinking
  • Increased heart rate

Next Steps
After an examination, your doctor may decide that tests and procedures should be ordered  to help determine the nature of the possible problem with the heart's larger lower chambers, the ventricles, which may be responsible for symptoms such as the ones listed above. These chambers may have lost some of their power to pump blood to the body or relax and fill with blood.

Interpreting the Results
The doctor uses your test results to determine whether you have heart failure, the degree of severity, including the type of heart failure as well as the class of heart failure, you may be dealing with, and what treatments would be most effective. Learn about some of the common tests for heart failure.

Related topics:

This content was last reviewed April 2015.

Subscribe to Heart Insight magazine and monthly e-newsletter
Heart Insight Masthead
Our digital magazine delivers helpful articles and the latest news on keeping your heart healthy. Sign up today!



By clicking submit below you agree to the Terms and Conditions

Heart Failure

Our Sponsor

Rise Above HF is nationally supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Learn more about Novartis

Watch, Learn and Live

Interactive Cardiovascular Library

Our Interactive Cardiovascular Library has detailed animations and illustrations to help you learn about conditions, treatments and procedures related to heart disease and stroke.

Start exploring today!