Heart Failure | Diagnosis and Treatment

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How is heart failure diagnosed?

If your child’s doctor suspects heart failure, he or she will ask you about your child's symptoms, get a complete medical history and examine your child. Your doctor may order a chest x-ray to see how large the heart appears.

Your doctor may also order one or more of the following tests:

  • chest x-ray
  • echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound)
  • electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • blood tests to help determine what caused the heart failure
  • treadmill or bicycle exercise tests can test heart function during exercise stress
  • biopsy to check for disease or infection

What are the treatment options for heart failure?

Treatment for heart failure will depend your child's age and the cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options may include:

  • medications to help the heart pump more effectively, to relieve congestion and edema, or to slow down the heart rate
  • ventricular assist device (VAD), a battery-operated pump that works with the heart to improve blood flow
  • surgery
  • a heart transplant

What is the long-term outlook for children with heart failure?

The long-term outlook depends on what caused the heart failure. Some children with heart failure have a complete recovery of heart function. More often, heart failure is a chronic condition. The good news is that we have several ways of treating and controlling chronic heart failure.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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