Getting an Accurate Heart Valve Diagnosis

doctor talking with patient

You’ll need a careful evaluation to decide the best treatment.

Several tests can provide information about your heart valves and your circulation. Those tests are described as they relate to valve disease in this section.

Diagnostic checks in your health care provider's office

Your health care team will use diagnostic criteria to assess your needs and determine the severity of problems you might be having. The first diagnostic measure is usually auscultation, which is listening to your heart and any unusual sounds or murmurs with a stethoscope. Sometimes, you may be asked to change your position or bear down with your abdominal muscles to see if the murmur changes.

Learn more about further diagnostic testing

The remainder of this section covers what happens beyond listening to your heart in the office. Read more about echocardiography (PDF)(link opens in new window) – the main diagnostic tool for valve problems. Sometimes, the echocardiogram (echo) will provide all the needed information to decide on a treatment plan or to rule out the need for further treatment.

Sometimes, the information from the echo alone doesn’t provide all the information. You may need further testing including an exercise test, chest X-rays, CT scan and sometimes cardiac catheterization. 

Read more about these heart valve tests.