Lung function tests

Because certain lung conditions may have similar symptoms to heart failure, and because lung disease may coincide with heart failure, your doctor may ask you to undergo lung function tests. Lung function tests assess how well your lungs are working. The main test is called spirometry. It measures how much and how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs.

For most of the lung function tests, you will wear a nose clip to make sure that no air passes in or out of your nose during the test. You then will be asked to breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a recording machine (spirometer). You will be given instructions on what to do, such as breathe in as deeply as possible and then breathe out as fast and hard as possible.

The accuracy of the tests depends on your ability to follow all the instructions. The respiratory therapist carrying out the test may strongly encourage you to breathe deeply during some of the tests to get the best results.

You may cough or feel light-headed after some of the tests but you will be given a chance to rest between tests. The testing may take from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how many tests are done.

The results of the tests should help your doctor to:

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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