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Cardiological testing is a key part of diagnosis, helping identify heart-related problems
If you are having symptoms that point to a heart condition or a problem with your circulation, you might be referred to see a consultant cardiologist. They will run tests to find out what is causing your symptoms. Once they have a diagnosis, they will advise you on the best treatments to help manage or reduce the problem.
These tests measure things such as how fast your heart is beating, your heart rhythms and whether they are steady, and even how well your heart's valves and chambers are working. We might also check for high or low blood pressure.
Cardiological diagnostics are generally non-invasive and pain-free. At most, you'll feel a little uncomfortable. You should be able to go straight home after you have the tests and there is no recovery period afterwards.
If you have private health insurance, the cost of any tests will usually be covered by your policy.
If you are paying for your own treatment, you will be told the exact cost of the test(s) you need ahead of time.
If you are having tests as part of ongoing treatment for example, to track the effectiveness of medication you have been prescribed, the diagnostics may be included in your fixed-price package. Your consultant will let you know before booking you in.
The most common conditions that we test for using non-invasive procedures include:
You might also want to have cardiology tests done because you have a family history of heart problems or heart disease, or because you have a condition such as diabetes that can make heart problems more likely.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) test is a safe and painless test to check your heart's rhythm and electrical activity. It helps diagnose and monitor conditions that affect your heart, including coronary heart disease, which is when your heart's blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances.
An ambulatory ECG test is when you are given a portable electrocardiogram machine, which will record your heart's activity as you go about your normal life. The test lasts anywhere from one to 14 days
A stress ECG, also known as a cardiac stress test, measures your heart's activity when you are under stress. It is done while you are exercising usually on a treadmill or an exercise bike.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure inside your arteries as your heart pumps blood around your body. Your blood pressure will go up and down depending on what you're doing, however, there is a certain healthy range that it should fall into while you are resting. A blood pressure test can check this.
A blood pressure machine consists of a soft armband attached to an electronic sensor. The armband will inflate to apply pressure to your arm and allow the sensor to read your blood pressure.
In some instances it is helpful to measure your blood pressure not only when you are resting but also when you are going about your daily life. If your cardiologist thinks this would be helpful, they can give you a portable blood pressure monitor to wear for 24 hours.
You'll be asked to go away and continue your day as usual, and the armband will inflate once an hour or so to measure your blood pressure while you work, exercise, sleep and so on.
An X-ray can be used to look inside your chest and see how well your heart and lungs are functioning.
An echocardiogram uses soundwaves to produce pictures of your heart. It's a type of ultrasound test. It can tell your cardiologist how well your heart is working and identify certain issues with your heart valves and chambers.
This is where an echocardiogram is performed by inserting the ultrasound machine into your oesophagus (your gullet or food pipe) to get closer access to your heart. It can be more accurate than a traditional echocardiogram.
During a stress echocardiogram, you'll be given a type of medicine that makes your body act as if you're stressed. Then, when the ultrasound is used, it can see how your heart behaves when it's under stress.
A tilt table test might be recommended if you are having dizzy spells or blacking out. It can identify whether these symptoms are because of a heart problem. It works by recreating your symptoms in a safe environment while monitoring your heart's activity. You might also hear it referred to as a tilt test.
You'll be asked to lie down flat on a special bed that tilts up and down. You'll be connected to an ECG recorder and a blood pressure monitor. After lying flat for five minutes, we will gradually tilt the bed upwards until you're nearly standing. This will go on for around 20 minutes, or until your feel dizzy or faint. Sometimes we'll also give you some medicine to help reproduce your symptoms, before tilting the table a little longer.
Overall the tilting portion of the test can last up to 45 minutes, though your appointment can last up to two hours.
A CT scan can be used to produce detailed pictures of your heart and its arteries. It can be used to identify a wide range of heart problems.
An MRI scan produces detailed pictures of the inside of your body. It can be used to show the different parts of your heart and how they are working, as well as how your blood is moving around your body.
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition that interrupts your breathing while you sleep. If your cardiologist suspects you have sleep apnoea, they will arrange various tests to confirm the diagnosis. For example, you might be asked to wear a heart monitor or a breathing monitor while you sleep.
You can do this by calling our dedicated team of friendly advisors, or by taking advantage of our easy online booking system.
If you have private medical insurance, speak to your insurer about how to get a referral to one of our hospitals. We work with all major health insurance providers.
If you are paying for your own treatment and would like to spread the cost to make it more affordable, we work with Chrysalis Finance to offer loans that can be paid back over a period of one to five years.
If you want to know more about cardiology diagnostics and whether they're right for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.