Important PPCM Tests.
There is no single blood test to diagnose PPCM (heart failure). The following is a list of blood tests that is part of your PPCM diagnosis or risk evaluation. The tests completed with a simple blood sample drawn in just a few seconds from a vein in your arm or with a urine sample.
This test measures the number of different electrolytes (molecules that carry an electric charge) in your blood, including sodium, potassium, chlorate, and bicarbonate. Abnormal levels of electrolytes can be caused by heart failure, kidney problems, or other conditions.
Echocardiogram, or echo, is a noninvasive, diagnostic test. It uses high-frequency sound waves to provide a picture of the heart movement, valves, and chambers. An echo is essentially the same as a pregnancy ultrasound, except instead of seeing the baby, you know the heart. There are several different types of echocardiograms. The most common ones for diagnosing heart disease are:• M-MODE - gives a one-dimensional view of the heart as if a line is drawn through it• 2-DIMENSIONAL (2-D) OR 3-D - show the length and width of the structures in the heart• DOPPLER - measures blood flow through the heart and blood vessels.
This test measures the amount of BNP (B-type natriuretic peptides) in your blood. BNP are proteins released by the overworked heart into the bloodstream when the heart cells stretch in response to added strain. High levels of BNP may be a sign of heart failure. A BNP test is useful for diagnosing or ruling out heart failure in patients with shortness of breath. It is also used to assess the effectiveness of heart failure therapy: if BNP levels drop, it means the treatment is working. The BNP test should not be used as the only test to confirm or rule out heart failure.
EJECTION FRACTION TEST
Ejection fraction is the measure of how much blood your heart pumps—or “ejects”—out of the filled pumping chambers (ventricles) with each heartbeat. Each heartbeat, the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood out of the ventricles, then relaxes and fills with blood again. Ejection fraction is the amount of blood pumped out divided by the total amount of blood in a filled ventricle. It is measured on the left ventricle (left ventricular ejection fraction, or LVEF) because the left ventricle is the heart’s main pumping chamber, pushing oxygen-rich blood to the entire body. Ejection fraction is used to diagnose and monitor heart failure by determining how well your heart is working.
WHAT IS A NORMAL EJECTION FRACTION?
A healthy heart usually pumps out about one-half to two-thirds of the blood in its left pumping chamber (ventricle) with each heartbeat (it never pumps out 100%). An average ejection fraction is 50% or higher, meaning half or more of the total blood in the left ventricle is pumped out during each heartbeat (some doctors use 55% as the cut off). If the ejection fraction falls below 50%, it means your heart is not pumping blood as well as it should; the lower the ejection fraction number is the weaker your heart. A smaller ejection fraction means your heart muscle is damaged, leaving it unable to contract normally and pump out enough blood to meet the body’s needs (systolic heart failure).
Electrocardiogram or ECG (sometimes called an EKG) is a noninvasive diagnostic test that records the heart electrical activity as a graph or series of wavy lines on a moving strip of paper. It records your heart rate and rhythm and can detect decreased blood flow, enlargement of the heart, and if you are having or have previously had a heart attack. You may have a resting ECG performed while you are lying down (at rest) or an exercise ECG that happens while you exercise (usually on a treadmill).
CHEST X-RAY TEST
A chest x-ray is a test that produces images of the organs in your chest, including the heart and lungs. The chest x-ray can show if you have fluid build-up in the lungs or if your heart has become enlarged.
Heart failure diagnosis and the chest x-ray is one of the first tests performed to determine the cause of your heart failure symptoms. Because it can identify or rule out other possible causes of shortness of breath and fluid build-up in the lungs, including lung problems such as pneumonia or emphysema.