Heart Failure | Diagnosis & Tests


How will my doctor know if I have heart failure?

Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and symptoms. He or she will give you a physical exam and may order some the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (also called EKG or ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Radionuclide ventriculography

An electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of your heart. It can help diagnose heart rhythm problems or damage to the heart. An echocardiogram is a test that sends out sound waves that allow your doctor to see pictures of your heart. The pictures show your doctor how well your heart is pumping.

Radionuclide ventriculography involves injecting a very small amount of a radioactive substance into your blood. This substance travels to your heart. A special camera or scanner uses the radioactive substance to produce pictures that show your doctor how well your heart is pumping. The radioactive substance is safe and leaves your body completely after the test is finished.


Reducing Readmissions for Congestive Heart Failure by RE Hoyt, CAPT, MC, USN, and LS Bowling, LTCR, MC, USN (American Family Physician May 15, 2001, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010415/1593.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00