To diagnose congestive heart failure, your doctor will ask about any other conditions you may have. He will listen to the heart and check for edema in the feet and legs. Blood tests and urine tests check for anemia and high cholesterol. An electrocardiogram and chest X-ray will give the doctor more information on heart function. An ejection fraction test (that shows the amount of blood the heart is capable of pumping) may also be necessary.
Most cases of mild congestive heart failure are treatable under proper medical supervision. A typical treatment program will include rest, proper diet, modified daily activities, and drugs. Lifestyle changes may enable a patient to lead a normal life.
There are many different drug possibilities. Diuretics will cause the patient to urinate frequently, emptying the body of some of the excess fluid. Digitalis, also known as digoxin, slows the heart rate but increases the strength of each heart beat. ACE inhibitors reduce heart workload. The doctor might also prescribe an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting, especially if the patient is bed-ridden. If the medications are working well, it is important to continue taking them.
Surgery options also vary depending on the underlying cause; for example, heart valve replacement or repair may be effective against heart valve disease. Heart transplant is a last resort, and has a high success rate, with 90% of patients alive one year after treatment, and 75% alive after five years.