Q:

How is cardiomyopathy diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

A physician diagnoses cardiomyopathy based on the patient's medical and family histories, a physical exam and results from tests and procedures. It's usually a cardiologist or pediatric cardiologist who diagnoses and treats cardiomyopathy, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

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Full Answer

A diagnosis of cardiomyopathy typically begins with a round of questioning by the treating physician. These questions concentrate on the patient's medical history and the nature and severity of symptoms. The physician also considers whether anyone in the patient's family has experienced cardiomyopathy, heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest. The diagnostic process then moves to a physical exam, notes the NHLBI.

During the physical exam, the physician listens to the patient's heart and lungs for sounds that suggest cardiomyopathy. The physician also checks for signs such as swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen or veins in the neck. These signs indicate fluid buildup and heart failure, explains the NHLBI.

A physician also relies on a number of tests to diagnose cardiomyopathy, beginning with blood work. The NHLBI notes that other necessary tests may include a chest X-ray, an EKG, an ECG and stress testing. The physician may also suggest the patient wear a portable monitor to record the heart's electrical activity.

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