Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Heart Failure Diagnosis
Our University of Vermont Medical Group heart failure experts at Fletcher Allen have specialized training in caring for people with congestive heart failure. These highly skilled physicians, with years of experience and a deep grounding in the latest scientific knowledge, bring patients the most advanced therapies and treatments available.
If you and your cardiologist determine that a more advanced level of care is the best course to address your congestive heart failure – or in the case of an emergency situation – at Fletcher Allen you have access to highly specialized care provided by our "sub-specialists."
Sub-specialists are cardiologists with advanced training and expertise in a particular area of cardiology, and are typically found only at tertiary, or advanced-level care centers like Fletcher Allen – the only center of this kind in Vermont. The sub-specialists involved in the care of heart failure are:
- Congestive Heart Failure Specialists - Cardiologists with advanced training in heart failure care. These physicians focus primarily on the care of people with congestive heart failure, and are familiar with the most advanced therapies and treatments for this disease.
- Interventional Cardiologists - Cardiologists with advanced training in non-surgical procedures for treating cardiovascular disease, such as angioplasty and stent placement. They use catheters – thin, flexible tubes – which are threaded through a patient's blood vessels to perform diagnostic tests, clear clogged arteries and repair heart structures, often avoiding the need for open surgery.
- Cardiac Electrophysiologists - Cardiologists with advanced training in treating heart rhythm disorders and electrical diseases of the heart. These specialists offer expertise in implanting pacemakers and defibrillators, and performing catheter-based procedures to correct heart rhythm problems.
- Cardiothoracic Surgeons - Surgeons with advanced training in operating on the heart and performing "open-heart" procedures such as coronary artery bypass surgery. They have special expertise in operating on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and major blood vessels of the chest cavity.
Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis
Fletcher Allen's cardiac imaging specialists are specially trained in the latest technology and techniques used to diagnose heart problems. The process of diagnosis may involve the following:
- Physical examination – Your doctor will take a thorough medical history and physical examination, checking for risk factors such as high blood pressure.
- Blood tests – Blood tests can reveal other diseases that affect the heart. Your doctor may also check for specific chemical markers of congestive heart failure in the blood.
- Chest X-Ray – An x-ray can be useful in showing the condition of your lungs, as well as the size and shape of your heart and major blood vessels. With heart failure, the heart may be enlarged with fluid buildup visible in the lungs.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – This test records the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to your skin. An ECG can help identify damage to your heart that may be a cause of congestive heart failure.
- Echocardiogram – This is an important test for diagnosing heart failure, enabling doctors to distinguish between different types of congestive heart failure. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a video image of your heart. It can help determine if an area of your heart isn't pumping as it should.
- Ejection fraction – This is a measurement of how well your heart is pumping, taken during an echocardiogram. It helps to classify your heart failure and guide your congestive heart failure treatment.
- Stress tests – A stress test shows how your heart and blood vessels respond to exertion — either during exercise or in response to medications that stress the heart. This test can help identify blockages in your arteries that may be causing your heart failure.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan – Fletcher Allen offers the latest technology in computed tomography. Highly advanced CT scanners provide comprehensive images of organs within seconds with a high degree of accuracy. A cardiac CT scan can help determine the condition of heart arteries and valves and identify potential causes of heart failure.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan – An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images of your body. Fletcher Allen offers the latest technology in Open MRI, offering a comfortable option for patients in an open setting. A cardiac MRI scan can be used to check the heart arteries and valves, determine if you've had a heart attack and check for any other causes of congestive heart failure.
- Coronary catheterization or angiogram – Cardiologists in Fletcher Allen's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory inject a dye into the arteries of your heart through a long, thin tube called a catheter. The dye is visible on x-ray and video, helping to identify any blocked or narrowed arteries that may be causing your heart failure.
Learn more about Fletcher Allen's Heart Rhythm Program.
Find a Fletcher Allen Health Care physician or call 802-847-4600.