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Understanding and Managing Chronic Heart Failure

Understanding and Managing CHRONIC HEART FAILURE Diagnosing Chronic Heart Failure If you have any of the symptoms of chronic heart failure, you should see your doctor. It’s a good idea to prepare for this appointment by writing down your symptoms, making a list of the medications you take, and writing down any questions you have. (You can print out the list of questions linked on this page to use at your appointment.) Many people find it helpful to bring a friend or family member along to help you remember all the information you’ll receive. At your appointment, your doctor will conduct a full physical examination and take a detailed health history to get a complete picture of your overall health. He or she will likely take your blood pressure and listen to your lungs through a stethoscope for signs of congestion and abnormal heart sounds. Questions to Ask Your Doctor • Is chronic heart failure the most likely cause of my symptoms? • Is it possible that something else could be causing my symptoms? Understanding and Managing Chronic Heart Failure • Should I have any tests done? What should I do to prepare for these tests? • How much physical activity should I get? What exercises should I do? • How will my condition be treated? Are there medications that make sense for me? • How often will I have follow-up appointments scheduled? • How can I manage all my health conditions together most effectively? • What information resources can you share with me? Are there reliable websites I can turn to for more information? 1 © 2014 Mended Hearts and StayWell. All rights reserved. • Are there foods I should eat or avoid? Questions to Ask Your Doctor Download/print this PDF To help diagnose chronic heart failure, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests: • Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to create a video image of your heart. It can help your doctor determine how much blood your heart is pumping through the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber. It can also highlight problems with the heart’s valves and show damage from previous heart attacks. • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This simple test records your heart’s electrical activity through a series of electrodes that are attached to your skin. The electrical impulses your heart generates show up as waves on a monitor or printed on paper. This helps your doctor see problems with your heart’s rhythm or heart attack damage that may be the underlying cause for chronic heart failure. • Chest x-ray: Chronic heart failure can cause fluid to build up in your lungs. Using a chest x-ray, your doctor can see that fluid buildup and rule out other possible explanations for your symptoms. 8


Understanding and Managing Chronic Heart Failure
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