Heart Failure

Frequently Asked Questions

8. What initial tests for heart failure might my doctor order?

There is not one specific test to diagnose heart failure. Because the symptoms are common for other conditions, your doctor will determine if you have heart failure by doing a detailed medical history, an examination, and several tests. During a physical exam, a doctor will listen for abnormal heart sounds and lung sounds that indicate fluid buildup, as well as look for signs of swelling.

If there are signs of heart failure, the doctor may order several tests, including:

  • an EKG, or electrocardiogram, to measure the rate and regularity of the heartbeat
  • a chest X-ray to evaluate the heart and lungs
  • a BNP blood test to measure the level of a hormone called BNP that increases when heart failure is present.