Diagnosis and treatment of heart failure1,2,3

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Doctors use a number of tools to diagnose heart failure, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Tracings
  • Scans of the heart
  • Thorough physical examinations

Blood tests show kidney and liver function, as well as changes in the heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test which measures the electrical activity of your heart. It shows whether the heart is beating too fast or too slow. It can also indicate heart problems that may have occurred in the past.

Echocardiogram is an ultrasound test. It scans the heart to see how efficiently it is pumping, its size, and the condition of the valves.

Understanding treatment

Treatments for heart failure are the first part of managing the disease. It is very important to talk to your doctor about available treatment options. He or she can help you if you are having trouble taking your medicines or understanding when and how to take them. In addition to talking to your doctor, here are some tips on taking medicines:

  • Know exactly what you’re taking and how often. Understand why you are taking it
  • Medicines can sometimes make you feel worse before they make you feel better. Don’t give up without talking to your doctor
  • You may have multiple medicines to take daily. This is okay. Don’t feel overwhelmed
  • Ensure you take your medication on time and as recommended 


1: Heart failure patient education. Available at URL : https://www.ummchealth.com/uploadedfiles/umhccom/health_care_services/heart/adult/cardiac_wellness_and_management/heart%20failure%20patient%20education%20booklet.pdf. Accessed on 7th November 2016.

2: Common tests for heart failure. Available at URL : http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/DiagnosingHeartFailure/Common-Tests-for-Heart-Failure_UCM_306334_Article.jsp#.WByD0Pp942w. Accessed on 7th November 2016.

3: Ponikowski P, et al. European Heart Journal (2016) 37, 2129–2200.