Cardiac Investigations and Procedures
If you are concerned that you may have a heart problem or your doctor is treating you for a heart condition, I hope that these pages will provide you with information to help you understand your condition and how it might be investigated.
The tests you require will depend on your symptoms. They will help to diagnose the problem and identify the most appropriate treatment.
A short summary of each test follows but you can access information about each of the tests in detail by clicking on the test headings in the navigation bar (blue panel) on the left. You can also use this panel to switch easily between tests.
The heart is triggered by electrical impulses to pump blood around the body. A wave of electricity spreads across the top chambers and is transmitted to the bottom chambers of the heart, which pump blood around the body. ECGs are recordings of this electrical activity and can help to diagnose a variety of cardiac conditions and irregular heart rhythms.
ECG tracings are recorded both at rest and on exercise or whilst undertaking your normal daily activities (24 hour/ambulatory ECG).
Abnormalities of the heart muscle and the way it pumps may be identified by a special type of ultrasound scanning machine known as an echocardiogram (also referred to as an 'echo'). There are three different types of scan, one or more of which will be selected depending on the underlying problem. In the first instance, a resting trans-thoracic echocardiogram will usually be performed.
The above tests are all non-invasive. Coronary angiography, however, is an invasive test that is used to diagnose heart disease. It involves injecting 'dye' into the blood vessels which supply the heart to highlight any narrowings or blockages in the blood supply to the heart. Coronary angiography is the gold standard test, although non-invasive tests are also available to diagnose heart disease. The options and reasons for these tests will be discussed during your consultation.