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Heart Failure Diagnosis: Questions and Criteria

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» Request a referral to a John C. Lincoln heart failure treatment specialist.

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John C. Lincoln Hospitals are specialized in providing heart failure treatment. Our hospitals were first in Arizona to earn full accreditation as heart failure centers. Learn about our heart failure centers.

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In addition to heart failure tests — which may include blood tests, X-rays and an echocardiogram — John C. Lincoln's health care providers use a clinical assessment of each patient. Listening carefully to what our patients tell us is an invaluable part of the diagnosis process.

The two key components of the initial patient assessment are the medical history and physical examination. To gather this information, our nurses typically start by interviewing the patient about his or her risk profile, history of cardiac events and response to previous medical therapies.

Vital questions, such as those listed below, help our health care providers develop a diagnosis.

Symptoms

  • What symptoms have prompted you to seek medical care from John C. Lincoln?
  • When did the symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms improved or worsened?
  • Has your heartbeat felt any different than usual — have you experienced racing, fluttering or skipping?
  • Have you experienced abdominal or experienced swelling in your feet, ankles and calves?

Breathing

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Request a referral to a John C. Lincoln heart failure specialist
  • Have you encountered shortness of breath?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night feeling short of breath?
  • What makes your breathing easier?
  • Do you cough? Does coughing produce secretions?
  • Do you use oxygen therapy at home?

Sleep

  • Do you need pillows to prop yourself up as you sleep?
  • Do you sleep in a bed or a chair?
  • Can you lie flat in bed?
  • Have symptoms kept you from sleeping?

Diet

  • What kinds of foods do you eat at home? How frequently do you dine out, and where?
  • Have you recently eaten more salty foods, or drank more water than normal?
  • Have you gained or lost a significant amount of weight recently?
  • How frequently do you weigh yourself?

Medications

  • Have you taken all medications prescribed to you by your doctor?
  • Have you recently run out of any medications?
  • Have you had diarrhea or vomiting that may have affected absorption of medications?
  • Have you recently altered the dose of any medication?
  • Has your physician recently prescribed different medications to you? Has the dosage changed?
  • Do you take over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements?

Activity

  • How far can you walk?
  • Can you take part in daily activities — such as dressing, bathing, preparing food and climbing stairs — without stopping to rest?
  • Have you refrained from certain activities because of your symptoms?
  • Have you decreased your activity level?

Mind and Mood

  • Have you had difficulty remembering information?
  • Are you feeling confused, lightheaded, restless, anxious or weak?

Answers to these questions will help John C. Lincoln's cardiac specialists determine the cause and severity of a patient's heart failure. Once a diagnosis of heart failure is determined, they can formulate an appropriate heart failure treatment plan.

» Request a referral to a John C. Lincoln heart failure treatment specialist.