Diagnosing Heart Failure
Heart failure is a complex condition that may be challenging to initially diagnose. Early diagnosis of heart failure is critical to reduce its potential damage to the heart and other organs.
An initial diagnosis of congestive heart failure can be made by your physician after taking your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. However, to validate a heart failure diagnosis and begin your treatment plan various cardiac imaging and tests may be performed to gather and verify clinical data to confirm your diagnosis, its stage, and level of severity.
Mount Sinai Heart's Cardiovascular Imaging Center employs the full spectrum of the latest state-of-the-art imaging technologies to provide accurate and complete diagnosis of heart failure.
Starting with the least invasive, imaging tests used to confirm a heart failure diagnosis may include:
Electrocardiogram, or EKG, can help heart failure doctors identify abnormal heart rhythms due to cardiac muscle weakness and damage.
An electrocardiogram, also called an EKG, is a commonly used minimally invasive technology used by physicians to record and examine the electrical activity of your heart. It can detect heart rhythm abnormalities including those from heart failure.
Echocardiography uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to assess the heart's function, particularly to learn how well its chambers and valves are working. Also transesophageal echocardiography can be used to get an even closer view of some structures of the heart.
- Cardiopulmonary Stress Tests
Noninvasive cardiopulmonary stress tests evaluate how your heart, lungs, and muscles respond to exercise. By putting a patient on a bicycle or a treadmill, doctors can measure how much oxygen your heart uses during exercise. This can help doctors assess your stage of heart failure and guide your personalized treatment plan.
- Chest X-Ray
A basic chest x-ray can help doctors identify any structural abnormalities in your heart and lungs that may be linked to heart failure such as an enlarged heart or excess fluid retention in your lungs.
- Computed Tomography Imaging (CT)
Advanced computerized tomography (CT) imaging technology may be used to get highly detailed images of your heart. This procedure allows doctors to obtain accurate cardiac images rapidly with the advanced, fast, low-dose radiation CT scanners at Mount Sinai.
- Computed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMR)
Mount Sinai's high-field cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) technology with dedicated cardiac imaging systems can detect and identify conditions like heart failure, monitor the effects of various drug therapies, and identify medications that hold the most promise for preventing future clinical cardiac events.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Cardiac PET is a sophisticated, noninvasive method of studying the heart. The procedure uses tracer drugs that emit particles called positrons. Like X-rays, positrons are visible using an imaging device called a gamma camera. PET scans provide unique information about the metabolic functioning of the heart and other organs.
- Cardiac Catheterization
A cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure performed in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Mount Sinai to explore the inside of your heart and its vessels for any malfunction and defects. Also, during a cardiac catheterization an angiogram can be performed to test for coronary artery disease in the vessels of the heart.
- Electrophysiology Studies
Electrophysiology (EP) studies can be performed in the Electrophysiology Laboratory to test for dangerous arrhythmias or irregular heart beats that may be contributing to heart failure. The procedure aims to pinpoint what part of the heart is causing an arrhythmia.
- MUGA Scan
A MUGA scan, or multiple-gated acquisition scan, is a nuclear medicine test that can assess and measure how well your heart is beating. It also takes pictures of your heart during its heartbeat cycles to assess your heart's function.