Congestive heart failure can be identified by a series of tests, the first one usually being an electrocardiogram (ECG). This test documents heart impulses and electrical activity, allowing doctors to detect any potentially irregular heart rhythms.
An echocardiogram is a multi-dimensional ultrasound of the heart. The clinical measurement to identify how adequately your heart is pumping out blood is calculated through an echo. This is called your ejection fraction (EF), and it measures the percentage of oxygen-rich blood your left ventricle is pumping out to the the other organs in your body. In the two main types of congestive heart failure, systolic and diastolic, the first is a condition where your EF decreases with the weakening of your heart. Patients with systolic heart failure have an EF of 50 percent or less. In diastolic heart failure, the left ventricle stiffens and has problems relaxing, which causes blood to push back into the circulatory system. Diastolic heart failure patients generally show a normal EF.
Other common tests include angiograms, which identify the presence of coronary artery disease, exercise testing and blood tests designed to indicate different types of heart diseases.