Heart Failure Diagnosis

Diagnosis of heart failure involves a clinical examination for signs and symptoms followed by laboratory and imaging studies. Some of the steps in the diagnosis of heart failure include:

  • Clinical examination for signs and symptoms including dyspnea or shortness of breath, edema in the ankles or feet or legs, cough, collection of fluids in the abdomen (ascites) and enlarged liver.

  • Laboratory tests include blood tests such as:

    • Routine blood tests to check haemoglobin, full blood count and electrolytes levels, for example
    • Renal or kidney function tests including blood urea, blood creatinine and 24-hour urine output
    • Liver function tests including blood bilirubin and liver enzymes such as AST (aspartate transaminase) and ALT (alanine transaminase)
    • Thyroid function tests
    • C-reactive protein to detect infection
    • Blood cholesterol and lipid profile
    • Blood sugar to check for diabetes or its control
    • A raised B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a specific test for heart failure
    • Markers for heart attack such as cardiac troponin T may be checked
  • Electrocardiography may be performed to check for ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias or heart rhythm abnormalities.

  • Imaging studies include tests such as:

    • Echocardiography - This helps confirm a diagnosis of heart failure. In this test, a device is used to look at the amount of blood entering the heart during diastole and the amount leaving the heart during systole. The device can detect valve and blood flow alterations. Stroke volume (SV), end diastolic volume (EDV), systolic volume and the SV in proportion to the EDV (also called ejection fraction, EF) is determined. A normal EF is between 50% and 70% but in heart failure, this is reduced.
    • Trans-oesophageal echocardiography - This is a form of echocardiography which involves an ultrasound probe being placed in the food pipe or the esophagus where it can detect heart abnormalities.
    • Chest X-rays are used to detect enlargement of the heart.
    • Angiography - This is used to determine the presence of coronary heart disease.


  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Heart-failure/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. http://www.heartfailureguideline.org/_assets/document/Guidelines.pdf
  3. https://www.heart.org/
  4. https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/washington/front-door
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/
  6. https://www.sign.ac.uk/

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, July 13). Heart Failure Diagnosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 20, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Heart-Failure-Diagnosis.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Heart Failure Diagnosis". News-Medical. 20 July 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Heart-Failure-Diagnosis.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Heart Failure Diagnosis". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Heart-Failure-Diagnosis.aspx. (accessed July 20, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Heart Failure Diagnosis. News-Medical, viewed 20 July 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Heart-Failure-Diagnosis.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
New PREVENT risk equations could reduce statin use by 40%, study finds