London Cardiac Diagnostics provides a whole range of high quality cardiac tests for patients. The tests are provided in a comfortable diagnostic facility and reported by experienced Consultant Cardiologists so you can have the peace of mind that your tests are performed to the highest clinical standards. We provide a wide range of diagnostics at some of the most competitive prices. Please enquire for further information and details.
An electrocardiogram is a simple test that records the electrical activity of the heart. It is performed by placing electrodes (stickers) on the chest, arms and legs and usually takes only a few minutes. The ECG captures a few seconds of the heart beat and can be used to diagnose many problems including slow and fast heart rhythms, coronary disease and the effects of high blood pressure.
The resting ECG records only a few seconds of the heartbeat and often, in order to make a diagnosis, it is necessary to record for longer periods of time. This may be for 24 or even 48 hours. Rather than the usual 12 leads for a standard ECG, ambulatory ECG monitoring usually uses 3 electrodes which are attached to the chest (stickers) and the patient is given the recording device (the size of a smartphone) to carry in their pocket for the duration of the recording. The device is then returned and the tracings analysed by a Cardiologist and a report generated.
In some situations even prolonged monitoring with an ambulatory ECG is not sufficient to make a diagnosis. Under these circumstances a loop recording device can be used and activated by patients during symptoms to record the heart beat for subsequent analysis by a Cardiologist. Patients can keep such devices for a week or even a month and they can be very useful to help make a diagnosis.
Occasionally, it is necessary to monitor the heart for long periods of time including many months. The safest and most effective way of doing this is to implant a very small device the size of two matchsticks under the skin with a very minor procedure that can be performed in a clinic room. This implantable loop recorder continuously records the heart and the tracings can be downloaded and analysed by Cardiologists.
Exercise stress testing is a test where a 12 lead ECG is continuously recorded whilst exercising, usually on a treadmill. The exercise is staged starting with a gentle walk, followed by a brisk walk and then increasing to a light jog. Exercise stress testing can be very useful to help diagnose coronary artery disease and heart rhythm problems.
Echocardiography is an ultrasound scan of the heart. It allows the Cardiologist to view the structure and function of the heart muscle and valves. Echocardiography is painless and usually takes 20-30 minutes to perform. The scan involves applying a jelly like substance to the chest and placing a probe over the chest to access a ‘window’ to view the heart. Echocardiography is a very useful way of looking at the heart’s structure including the heart muscle, chambers and valves. The scan is very useful in patients with congenital heart disease, heart valve disease and for assessing damage after a heart attack.
Stress echocardiography is an ultrasound scan of the heart after the heart rate has been increased usually as a result of exercise but occasionally after the administration of medication. Stress echocardiography is a safe and painless test that is used to assess for coronary artery disease (narrowing of the heart arteries) and heart valve disease.
Transoesophageal echocardiography is a technique performed with local anaesthetic and light sedation where a thin ultrasound probe is inserted through the mouth down the food pipe in order to visualise the heart from behind. The scan uses ultrasound and enables the Cardiologist to obtain very good quality pictures of the heart and provides greater definition to better understand the nature of any heart problems. Although the test takes only 20-30 minutes to perform, patients are observed for a couple of hours before being discharged the same day due to the light sedation.
Coronary angiography is an invasive procedure to diagnose coronary artery disease. The procedure involves taking X-ray pictures of the heart's arteries (coronary arteries) by injecting contrast (dye) into the blood vessels. The technique is used to help diagnose angina (where chest pain is caused by narrowing of the heart arteries), to plan interventional or surgical procedures – such as a coronary angioplasty, where narrowed or blocked blood vessels are widened or in the treatment of heart attacks.
The procedure is usually performed with local anaesthesia and light sedation and involves passing a long, thin and flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. Using X-ray images as a guide, the tip of the catheter is passed up to the heart and coronary arteries. Contrast, which is special dye is injected into the catheter and X-ray images (angiograms) are taken. The contrast shows the blood vessels that the fluid travels through and this clearly highlights any blood vessels that are narrowed or blocked. It is also possible at the same time to treat narrowed arteries in some cases by stretching the arteries with a fine balloon and deploying a stent which is a small tube like structure made of thin wire that keeps the artery open.
After the procedure you will usually be able to leave hospital on the same day you have a coronary angiography after a period of rest and observation. Coronary angiography is usually very safe although there are some risks, a few of which can be serious. It is therefore important to be carefully assessed by experts.
Computed Tomography (CT) coronary angiography is a non-invasive scan of the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart. The procedure involves injecting a small amount of dye through a small vein in the arm and taking pictures with a CT scanner with the patient lying on a table. The scanner is like a semi-circular tube and can take accurate pictures very rapidly to diagnose coronary artery disease. You may experience a brief hot flushed feeling, get a funny metallic taste or smell from the contrast injection. It is also common to feel a sensation in the pelvis or bladder area which can make feel that you need to urinate or that you have urinated. This is just a sensation and you do not actually urinate. The scan will take 20 minutes but the total time including preparation and recovery may take between 2-3 hours depending on the individual.
Cardiac Calcium Scoring uses CT to check the buildup of calcium (plaque) on the walls of the coronary arteries which are vessels that supply blood to the heart. The test can be a useful method in some patients to determine the risk of future heart attacks in combination with other factors such as age, diabetes, family history and whether you smoke. This test can check for heart disease at an early stage and can determine the extent and location of the plaque.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic scan used to visualize the heart and blood vessels in detail. The scan has the major advantage of being able to obtain images with great resolution without the need for radiation. However, it is not suitable for everyone and at the moment many patients with pacemakers or defibrillators cannot have scans. An MRI scan of the heart can view the heart’s structure including the heart muscle, chambers and valves. The scan is very useful in patients with congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, damage after a heart attack and also to look at the blood supply to the heart.
An MRI involves lying on a flat bed which is then moved into a tunnel-shaped scanner. The scanner is open at both ends and you will be asked to lie still. The scan can take up to 1 hour and is painless although some patients can feel claustrophobic.
24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a method to continuously measure your blood pressure over the period of a whole day. This allows the Cardiologist to assess your blood pressure when you are living your normal daily life and is a better reflection of your true blood pressure. It is therefore a very useful technique to make the diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) in borderline cases or to assess the effectiveness of treatment.
The procedure uses a small digital blood pressure machine that is attached to a belt around your body and which is connected to a cuff around your upper arm. The machine takes your blood pressure by inflating a cuff around your upper arm and then slowly releasing the pressure and takes blood pressure readings at regular intervals throughout the day: usually, every 15-30 minutes during the daytime and 30-60 minutes at night. At the end of the 24 hours, the machine and cuff are returned and the machine will have stored all your readings which can be analyzed.
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