Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have signs and symptoms associated with heart disease — such as shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations or others — your doctor will examine your heart function and choose the best treatment.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may order heart-related tests as part of the ongoing management of the condition.

Screening tests for left ventricular hypertrophy include:

  • Electrocardiogram. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records electrical signals as they travel through your heart. Your doctor can look for patterns among these signals that indicate abnormal heart function and increased left ventricle muscle tissue.
  • Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce live-action images of the heart. This common test enables your doctor to watch your ventricles squeezing and relaxing and valves opening and closing in rhythm with your heartbeat.

    The echocardiogram is a primary tool for diagnosing left ventricular hypertrophy. If you have left ventricular hypertrophy, your doctor will be able to see thickening of muscle tissue in the left ventricle. An echocardiogram can also reveal how much blood is pumped from the heart with each beat and how stiff the heart muscle is. It may also show related heart abnormalities, such as aortic valve stenosis.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Magnetic resonance imaging is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create images of soft tissues in the body. It can be used to produce a thin cross-sectional "slice" of your heart or a 3-D image. Cardiovascular MRI can be used to diagnose left ventricular hypertrophy. However, this test is more expensive than echocardiography and may not be available everywhere.
July 18, 2012

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