Tests

If tests are required to investigate for cardiovascular disease, these will largely depend on the symptoms the patient is experiencing or the disease that they are at risk of. Below is a list of tests that can be helpful in the management of cardiovascular disease.

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Electrocardiogram

Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test to assess the electrics of the heart. It is simple and non invasive to perform and requires you to lie on a couch with stickers placed on the chest and arms. A print out of your heart's electrics is then obtained which requires interpretation by your cardioloogist.

Echocardiogram

This is an ultrasound scan of the heart. It is safe and non-invasive. It is very similar to the type of scan that is done to assess the baby during pregnancy. The scan will tell us whether the heart is structurally normal although more subtle changes may need other types of scan to assess.

Exercise ECG

This is sometimes called a treadmill test and is a screening test to look for evidence of angina. The test involves being attached to an ECG as above and then walking on a treadmill to increase the heart rate. The electrical signals on the ECG show changes if there is evidence of angina type problems.

Stress Echo

This is a non invasive test usually used to look for evidence of angina or blockage in the coronary arteries. The test involves an initial echocardiogram as shown above. The heart rate is then increased either by exercise on a treadmill or bike or by giving a drug. The ultrasound is then repeated when the heart rate has increased and the baseline and "stress", pictures compared to look for changes suggestive of problems.

Holter Monitor

Holter monitors are wearable ECG monitors that can assess the heart rhythm over a longer time period. They are used in patients with symptoms such as palpitations or abnormal sensations in the heart. They can also be used to investigate the cause of blackouts. They are usually fitted by a doctor or technician and then worn at home. The information collected can then be interpreted through a computer by your cardiologist.

Coronary Angiogram

This is test to look for blockages within the coronary arteries that may be causing angina symptoms or putting you at risk of a heart attack. The test is usually performed under local anaesthetic and involves putting a small tube into the artery of the groin (femoral artery) or wrist (radial artery). Small tubes known as catheters are then passed through the blood vessels to the heart where dye is put into the cornary arteries and xray pictures taken. The test takes around 30 mins to an hour and most patients go home a few hours later.

Cardiac MRI

A cardiac MRI is a magnetic resonance scan of the heart. It gives very clear pictures of the structure and function of the heart and can also provide information on signs of angina or coronary blockages. The test involves lying flat on a bed and being passed through a tunnel which takes pictures of the heart. Some people can find this a little claustrophobic but most people find it quite manageable.

Cardiac CT

A cardiac CT is another type of scan that can give information on th estructure of the heart and the state of the cornary arteries. It involves lying on a bed and passing through a "doughnut" to take pictures of the heart and coronaries

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