The incidence and prevalence of dyspnea increases with age. Frequently, for the general practitioner with his limited diagnostic facilities, it is impossible to separate dyspnea from cardiac causes and non-cardiac causes. Without cardiac imaging it is also impossible to separate systolic dysfunction from diastolic dysfunction. After a thorough physical examination, initial screening of systolic and diastolic heart failure can be done by measurement of plasma NT-pro BNP or plasma BNP. Additionally a Chest X-Ray or ECG can be performed. To improve diagnostic performance an open access echocardiographic service can be initiated. Recent studies showed, that open access echocardiography can easily detect systolic and diastolic dysfunction in the community and can separate cardiac from non-cardiac dyspnea.
Keywords: Heart failure, systolic dysfunction, diastolic dysfunction, brain natriuretic peptide, echocardiography
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