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What PA Residents Should Know About Diagnosing Heart Failure

Visiting a doctor can understandably result in anxiety for both the patient and the family. However, when one is not feeling up to par, a doctor cannot simply look at a patient and determine what is causing the illness or symptoms. Instead, a doctor may conduct a physical exam, perform different kinds of tests and take a detailed medical history before narrowing down the health issue.

For instance, when it comes to heart failure, similar symptoms also commonly are seen in patients who have high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. A doctor should rule out other conditions. In fact, an early diagnosis of heart failure can add to both the quantity and quality of life.

However, no single test can diagnose heart failure. Depending on signs and symptoms, which a doctor should gather during the physical exam and through information obtained during a medical history, the doctor may order several tests, including, but not limited to, an electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, blood test of hormone BNP levels and thyroid function, echocardiograph, Doppler ultrasound, MRI, use of a Holder monitor and nuclear heart scan. Additionally, some invasive tests include cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography. As with any invasive test, there is some risk associated with the insertion of a catheter.

Clearly, there are numerous options at the disposal of a doctor to diagnose heart failure. However, despite the plethora of diagnostic tests, the reality is, as any Philadelphia medication errors lawyer will agree, that healthcare providers are human beings. Despite all their education, training and experience, medical mistakes still happen, often leaving loved ones in a worsened condition due to a failure to diagnose the medical condition. During such times, it may help to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine if a healthcare provider potentially provided sub-standard or negligent care.

Source: National Institutes of Health, “How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?,” accessed Oct. 20, 2014

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

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