How is cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
The process of arriving at a cardiomyopathy diagnosis usually involves several steps. Your clinician will:
- obtain a thorough medical history by speaking with you, your child (if he is old enough) and your child’s referring physician, and reviewing all relevant labwork and reports
- give your child a comprehensive physical exam
- listen to your child’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope
- order specific tests
What tests will be done?
Your clinician may use one or more of the following tests to reach (or rule out) a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy:
blood tests, including tests to measure:
- B-type natiuretic peptide (BNP), a protein produced in the heart. BNP levels rise when the heart undergoes stress that may cause heart failure.
- iron levels, which, when elevated, may cause weakening of the heart
- kidney function
- thyroid function
- chest x-rays, which make it possible to view the structure of the heart and detect any enlargement
- electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which measures electrical activity within your child’s heart
- echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to assess you child’s heart structures and function
- cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a large magnet, radio waves and computer to evaluate the structure and function of your child’s heart and blood vessels
- stress echocardiography, which uses ultrasound and heart rate monitoring to assess your child’s heart function just before and just after exercise, or during the administration of a drug that mimics the effects of exercise on the heart
- a stress test, or exercise test, which measures your child’s capacity for physical exertion
- cardiac catheterization, which uses a small, flexible tube inserted into a vein or artery to provide a detailed view of the heart’s internal structures and accurate measurement of the pressure inside of the heart chambers and vessels.
- coronary angiography, which uses minimally invasive imaging technology to map the veins or arteries in your child’s heart
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