How do doctors diagnose congestive heart failure (CHF)?

Doctors can diagnose CHF with one or more of the following tests:

  • Review of your child’s medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Interview about how your child is eating, breathing, and if they are getting tired easily
  • Imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray, echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) or electrocardiogram (EKG, a test that checks the heart’s rhythm)

If the pediatrician is worried that your child has a problem with their heart, they will refer you to a pediatric cardiologist (heart doctor).

How do doctors treat CHF?

Treatment for CHF depends on what caused the condition. If CHF is caused by a congenital heart defect, treatments can include:

  • Surgery to fix the congenital heart defect
  • Medications to treat symptoms of CHF
  • A nutritionist or dietitian may recommend fortifying breast milk or formula with extra calories

Rev. 9/2018. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.