Diagnosis can be made through physical examination and certain laboratory tests. Here are some examinations on your heart that your doctor may do.
Checking Your Heart Rate
Your doctor feels your pulse in order to check your heart’s rate and rhythm. Each pulse matches up with a heartbeat that pumps blood into the arteries, thus evaluating the amount (strength) of blood flow to different areas of your body.
Your heart rate is the amount of times your heart beats in one minute. You can get your heart rate by counting your pulse within 60 seconds.
Checking Your Heartbeat
The doctor can evaluate your heart and valve function and hear your heart’s rate and rhythm by listening to your heart sounds through the use of a stethoscope.
Checking Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted in the arteries by the blood as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is recorded as two measurements:
- Systolic blood pressure. Pressure in the arteries during the period of the heart’s contraction (the higher number)
- Diastolic blood pressure. Pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats (the lower number)
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
Normal blood pressure for an adult, relaxed at rest, is less than or equal to 140 over 90. The 140 is the systolic pressure; the diastolic pressure is 90. Blood pressure may increase or decrease, depending on your age, heart condition, emotions, activity, and the medications you take.
Checking Your Heart by a Physical Exam
Your doctor can also tell about your heart’s function by examining other parts of your body, such as your eyes, arms, legs, and skin.
Checking Your Heart Through Blood Tests
Your doctor may recommend a blood test to check your cholesterol and other markers that may indicate heart disease.
Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease
- ACE inhibitors
- Drugs for high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Surgical treatments such as balloon angioplasty (usually using a metal stent to prop open the vessels) or open heart surgery to bypass blocked heart arteries
Treatment for Heart Failure
Treatment usually depends on the cause of heart failure.
- Diuretics or water pills
- ACE inhibitors
- Defibrillators heart transplantation in very advanced cases
Treatment for Heart Arrhythmias
Treatment depends on the type of arrhythmia you have.
- Drugs to help convert your rhythm to normal
- Drugs to prevent blood clots (such as warfarin and dabigatran)
Treatment for Heart Valve Disease
In severe cases, patients may require medications to deal with heart failure, or surgery to repair or replace the abnormal valve.
Treatment for Pericardial Disease
Pericarditis often subsides on its own, but it also can be treated with aspirin or, in severe cases, corticosteroid hormones. In the rare circumstance that pericarditis becomes a chronic condition, surgery may be needed to either create a pathway for the extra fluid to drain internally or remove the pericardial sac altogether.
Treatment for Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease)
Treatment and outcome for cardiomyopathy will depend upon the underlying cause. The treatment often includes the same measures used for patients with heart failure. In selected cases, heart transplant surgery may be recommended.
Treatment for Congenital Heart Disease
Some minor conditions can actually clear up on their own, or can be treated easily with medications. Those that are more complex can often be treated surgically, if necessary. Very rarely, the heart problem is so severe that it cannot be corrected.