This article explains how general practitioners can diagnose and treat heart failure in primary care. Diagnosis is difficult and four diagnostic tests – the electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, blood test for natriuretic peptides and echocardiography – are recommended as being of particular value in confirming the diagnosis in primary care.
A six-step treatment strategy is then given advising i) confirming the diagnosis, ii) excluding other treatable causes of heart failure, iii) giving general advice to the patient, iv) starting treatment with a diuretic, v) then adding an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and, vi) finally adding a beta blocker. A 10-point plan explaining in detail how to start beta blockers in primary care concludes the article.
For UK healthcare professionals only