Last Updated on Dec 13, 2019

Diagnosis of Congestive Heart or cardiac failure

Diagnosis of congestive heart failure is usually done based on the patientís medical history, physical examination and a set of specific investigations.

Symptoms described in the previous section and additional findings like a history of heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, or alcohol abuse may provide clues.

Physical examination focuses on: finding the extra fluid and the associated features like oedema, changes in the neck veins, breath sounds. Auscultation of the heart speaks out the diagnoses to experienced clinicians.

Useful diagnostic techniques include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiography
  • Very rarely biopsy of the heart tissue may be performe
  • The blood test for BNP (brain natriuretic peptide level) is also helpful. BNP typically elevates during heart failure.


  1. Cecil Medicine, 23rd Ed.
  3. Amsterdam EA. Revised American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines for the management of heart failure. Prev Cardiol. 2005 Fall;8(4):254, 256.
  4. Heart Failure Society Of America. Evaluation and management of patients with acute decompensated heart failure. J Card Fail. 2006 Feb;12(1):e86-e103. Review.


syras Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Congestive heart failure can affect many organs. For example: The weakened heart muscle may not be able to deliver enough blood to the kidneys, which in turn begin to lose their normal ability to excrete salt and water. This can cause decreased kidney function in the body to retain more fluid. The lungs can become clogged with fluid and the ability of the person to take down. The fluid can also accumulate in the liver, which hinders their ability to rid the body of toxins and produce essential proteins. The intestines can become less efficient in absorbing nutrients and drugs. The fluid can also accumulate in the extremities, causing swelling of the ankles and feet.

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