Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Tests For Diagnosing Heart Failure

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Everyone is aware of the importance of the heart in the human body and the fact that heart failure is a fatal medical problem unless rectified immediately. Also known as Congestive heart failure, the condition is medically defined as the inability of the human heart to supply an efficient amount of blood flow to meet the requirements of the most basic functioning of the human body. Studies have shown that an average of about 2% of all adults will suffer from this disabling as well as potentially deadly condition all over the world. The condition is also known to become more prominent and likely to affect individuals above the age of 65. The condition may be medically termed as a number of other terms such as Myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, cardiomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy - with all these terms more clearly defining the root cause of the condition.

Tests Recommended

There are a number of heart failure tests that go a long way into helping doctors and medical professionals identify the risk that an individual is faced with, in regards to the severity of the condition.

  • Chest X-Ray: A chest x-ray as well as closer inspection of the heart rhythm with the help of the stethoscope will usually be the first heart failure tests that are performed. During this time the medical staff looks for any abnormalities in the structure of the body as well as the presence of any abnormal sounds as well as murmurs in the heart muscle.
  • Echocardiograms or Electrocardiograms: An echocardiogram refers to a simple testing procedure for which no prior preparation is required. You would be asked to lie on the hospital bed, while electrodes are attached to your shoulders and chest. The electrodes help in recording the ECG during the test. Some amount of colorless gel is then put on the chest and an echo transducer is used to make recordings of the activities of the heart.
  • BNP Testing: In a BNP testing or Brain Natriuretic Peptide test the amount of BNP is measured in the blood. A larger amount of BNP will indicate that the heart is working harder than usual to pump blood in the body.


It is important to learn about the various heart failure causes so you can take steps to prevent the same problems from developing in your lifestyle. This would in turn help in reducing the risk of you suffering from heart failure. Some of the common causes of heart failure would actually be some other underlying medical condition affecting the body. Heart failures could occur due to high blood pressure, heart valve disease, congenital heart defects as well as arrhythmias. Diabetes is another factor that contributes to the more common causes of heart failure and should be taken very seriously.


One of the biggest problems that people have in preventing the development of the condition is the fact that they are unaware of how to detect and identify the various heart failure symptoms. There are a number of symptoms that would point out to the ill health of the heart and some of these are

  • Shortness of breath
  • Substantial weight gain either over a short or long period of time
  • Significant fatigue and weakness despite performing your regular routine over the course of the day
  • A loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent coughing
  • A very disturbed sleep
  • Visible swelling of the hands and legs
  • Increase in stress and anxiety levels.

Though some of these symptoms may seem very insignificant and common it is necessary to go to the medical clinic and have a diagnosis done so as to identify the presence of any major issue.


Heart failure treatment usually requires a number of lifestyle changes given the fact that your original lifestyle is likely to have played a substantial role in the development of the condition in the first place. A heart healthy diet is essential to help your heart muscle return to the optimal level of fitness as soon as possible. Besides this, following a healthy diet is part of an ongoing care for the heart. Other factors to be kept in mind include lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and alcohol as well as giving your body an adequate amount of rest. The administration of medicines as well as proper fluid intake are important aspects of getting better as soon as possible and will play a prominent role in your ability to get better soon.

Following a few rules of a heart healthy diet can be rather hard to follow initially, but will contribute to a significant improvement in your overall health because of the fact that you have reduced the load being placed on your heart muscle.