The complexity of your cardiovascular system and the fact that it’s spread throughout every part of your body means that diagnosis can often involve a number of investigations and tests.
When you first meet with your Consultant Cardiologist here at The Blackheath, they will take a medical history and ask you about your symptoms. They will want to learn:
- What symptoms you have?
- How long you’ve had them for?
- Whether they’ve been getting worse over time?
- If there is any obvious triggers for your symptoms (for example, food, activity)?
- Whether you’ve received any type of treatment already, such as pain relief medication?
People visit our Consultants for help with a variety of symptoms. Most commonly, these are:
- Chest pain
- Loss of Consciousness (syncope)
All of these can be worrying to experience, and it’s important to get them properly investigated. There are a number of useful diagnostic tests that can be used for cardiovascular problems:
- ECG - measures the electrical activity of your heart
- Holter monitor/ Patch Monitor - an ECG carried out over a longer period of time (usually between 1 – 14 days)
- Exercise/Stress Test – heart rate and blood pressure are monitored during supervised activity (normally riding an exercise bike or walking on a treadmill) to measure how well your heart is able to function at different activity levels
- Blood pressure monitoring – normally carried out over a 24-hour period
- Tilt test – by tilting you on a special table while monitoring heart rate and blood pressure, postural problems can be detected
- Echocardiography - an Ultrasound scan of the heart to check the structure and function of the heart
- Transoesophageal echocardiogram – an Ultrasound probe is passed down your oesophagus (food pipe) to provide a clearer view of the heart
- Coronary angiography and CT coronary angiography – X-ray imaging of the blood vessels that supply the heart (the coronary arteries)
- Cardiac MRI – imaging of the heart using an MRI scan
- Coronary calcium score assessment – measures calcium levels in the walls of your arteries. This can help to detect early signs of coronary artery diseases
Your Consultant will arrange any tests needed to ensure a thorough investigation and an accurate diagnosis. While many of them can be carried out at The Blackheath, some may need to be arranged off-site by your Consultant.
Once the results of any investigations are known, your Consultant will discuss them with you and outline treatment options.
Treatment for cardiovascular conditions may involve:
- Watchful waiting – regular monitoring of symptoms
- Exercise and/or changes to diet
- A cardiac procedure
Procedures for heart conditions include:
Whatever treatment you need, your Consultant will carefully plan it to ensure it is tailored to your specific requirements. Regular follow-up allows careful monitoring of how effective treatment is. If adjustments are needed to medication, these are easily made.
If your symptoms re-occur, or if you have any questions or concerns at any time, it is easy to arrange a time to see your Consultant again for advice.