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Heart failure diagnosis

1-minute read

If you have symptoms of heart failure, your doctor will ask you to describe them in detail and you will have a physical examination.

Common symptoms of heart failure or chronic heart failure include shortness of breath, swelling of the ankles or belly, weight loss or weight gain, tiredness, loss of appetite, dizziness and coughing.

If your doctor thinks you may have heart failure, you will probably need to have tests to find out more. These will include:

  • Echocardiogram (an 'echo') – a heart ultrasound.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) – an ECG is a reading of your heart's electrical impulses taken from electrical leads placed on your chest and limbs. It can be used to diagnose a heart attack or abnormal heart rhythms (called 'arrhythmias').
  • Angiogram – this is a special X-ray that shows whether or not your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked. Chest X-rays.
  • Blood tests – to check if there is anything in your blood that might indicate a risk of heart failure or some other related illness.

Last reviewed: July 2018

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