What Aspects Of My Medical History And Examination Are Important In An Evaluation Of Heart Failure?

Question: What aspects of my medical history and examination are important in an evaluation of heart failure?

Answer: The doctor is going to need to know a complete medical history in order to evaluate you for heart failure. So for example, when I meet with my patients, I generally ask them about whether they have any risk factors that can lead to the development of heart failure. This includes a history of diabetes, high blood pressure. I'll ask them about whether they've ever smoked before or are current smokers. Whether the drink alcohol or were heavy drinkers in the past. And whether they ever took any drugs before -- illicit or prescribed drugs -- and what drugs they take.

I also want to know if somebody's had a prior history of a heart attack, if somebody's had a prior history of congestive heart failure, and if somebody's ever had a prior history of problems with the heart valves. This together will give me some information to understand whether you're at risk for or have a history of heart failure.