NON-INVASIVE CARDIAC TESTS
An ECG is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart. This test will assist the Consultant in evaluating the patient’s cardiac condition in relation to:
- Any irregularity in heart rate, rhythm and beats
- Diagnosis of coronary heart disease
- If a heart attack has occurred, its location and size
- Efficacy of prescribed cardiac medication.
Exercise ECG Test
An Exercise ECG Test may be requested by a consultant if a patient suffers from chest pain (angina), chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizzy spells or palpitations on exertion. It is also useful for assessing the blood pressure response to exercise and efficacy of medication when treating high blood pressure and other cardiac disorders.
An Echocardiogram is a scan of the heart using ultrasound which uses sound waves to produce a picture of the heart as it is beating showing the heart chambers and structures within the heart as the valves and blood flowing through them. The ultrasound will help assist to see whether or not the heart muscle is contracting properly and the heart valves are working normally. Other heart problems may also be identified.
A Stress Echocardiogram is a scan of a patient’s heart using an ultrasound. It is similar to an echocardiogram, but extra demands (such as extra monitoring of ECG and Blood Pressure) are gradually put on the heart using drugs, so that it beats faster and harder to examine how a heart copes with extra stress. This test can be conducted by two ways; either by drugs or physical exercise.
A foetal echocardiography is a detailed, specialist scan of your unborn baby’s heart which looks for heart defects. It usually takes place during the second trimester of pregnancy (in between 18-24 weeks). Foetal echocardiography is very much like an ultrasound and it is performed by an ultrasound sonographer. The images are later on interpreted by a paediatric cardiologist who specializes in fetal congenital heart disease.
Ambulatory ECG Recording (Holter)
A Holter Monitor is a type of electrocardiogram used to monitor the ECG tracing continuously for a period of 24 hours to 7 days during a patient’s normal daily routine.
The monitor is about the size of a mobile phone. The patient will be asked to wear it for 24 hours-7 days, depending on what has been advised by the consultant. The device will monitor the patient’s heart rhythm and record any symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, chest pains or shortness of breath they may experience during the length of time they are being monitored.
Blood Pressure Monitoring
A Blood Pressure monitoring test will measure patient’s blood pressure at different times over a 24 hour period under normal condition.
An inflatable cuff is placed around the arm and connected to a small monitoring device. The cuff will inflate and deflate at regular intervals over a period of 24 hours which will be set by a physiologist to measure patient’s blood pressure.
Pacemaker and ICD Monitoring
Patients who have a Pacemaker and/or Implantable Cardiovascular Defibrillators (ICD) devices implanted are required on a regular basis checks to ensure that the cardiac device is working properly and if need be to fine tune the device’s function.
A Consultant will also be able to obtain any information about patient’s heart rate and heart rhythm from the cardiac device as it keeps a record of any abnormal heart rate or irregular heart rhythm they may have had and make the appropriate changes to their treatment. The process of checking patient’s pacemaker/ICD is called interrogation.
Head-Up Tilt Test
A head-up tilt test is used to investigate symptoms such as fainting, dizzy spells or light-headedness which are known as syncope.
The test will replicate symptoms of syncope while a patient is being closely monitored.
Carotid Ultrasound Scan
A Carotid Ultrasound Scan is a non-invasive procedure done to assess narrowing of the carotid artery which supplies blood from the heart to the brain. This scan does not require any specific preparation and may be performed on an outpatients basis.
Echocardiography with Spectral and Colour Doppler
Echocardiography with Spectral and Colour Doppler is a non-investigation that uses ultrasound technology to examine the heart for valve lesions, heart muscle disorders (including hypertension and heart failure) and congenital heart disease. High frequency sound waves create an image of the heart enabling to visualise the speed and movement of blood flowing in the heart using Doppler ultrasonography and colour coding them respectively.
All studies are performed on site by a consultant. Reports can be provided immediately after the investigation. Studies are saved on to a computer to provide comparison with later investigations.