Heart - Cardiology & Cardiovascular Surgery

Diagnosing Heart Failure

Heart failure is a complex condition that may be challenging to diagnose. But it is important to do so. Early diagnosis of heart failure can reduce the damage to your heart and other organs.

Our doctors at Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital can make an initial diagnosis based on your medical history and a thorough physical examination. But to determine precisely what type of heart failure you are experiencing, its stage and severity, we usually perform various types of imaging tests. These tests include the following:

  • Echocardiography uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to assess the heart's function, particularly to learn how well its chambers and valves are working. In addition to standard echocardiography, we also use transesophageal echocardiography, which provides an even closer view of some structures of the heart.
  • Cardiopulmonary Stress Tests are non-invasive evaluations that assess how your heart, lungs, and muscles respond to exercise. By putting a patient on a bicycle or a treadmill, doctors use cardiopulmonary stress tests to measure how much oxygen your heart uses during exercise. This can help your doctor assess your stage of heart failure and guide your personalized treatment plan.
  • Chest X-Ray can help doctors identify any structural abnormalities in your heart and lungs that may be linked to heart failure. Chest X-rays show conditions such as an enlarged heart or excess fluid retention in your lungs.
  • Computed Tomography Imaging provides highly detailed images of your heart. This procedure allows doctors to obtain accurate cardiac images rapidly with the advanced, fast, low-dose radiation computed tomography scanners at Mount Sinai.
  • Computed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMR) enables us to detect and identify conditions like heart failure and monitor the effects of various drug therapies. Computed Magnetic resonance imaging also lets us classify medications that hold the most promise for preventing future clinical cardiac events.
  • Positron Emission Tomography 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. Positron emission tomography scans provide unique information about the metabolic functioning of the heart and other organs.
  • Cardiac Catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory to explore the inside of your heart and its vessels for any malfunction and defects. Also, during a cardiac catheterization we can perform an angiogram to test for coronary artery disease in the vessels of the heart.
  • Electrophysiology Studies (EPS) help us test for dangerous arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats that may be contributing to heart failure. EPS studies aim to pinpoint what part of the heart is causing an arrhythmia.
  • Multiple-Gated Acquisition (MUGA) Scans are nuclear medicine tests that can assess and measure how well your heart is beating. Multiple-gated acquisition scans also takes picture of your heart during its heartbeat cycles to assess your heart's function.