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Non-invasive cardiology diagnostics

Cardiological testing is a key part of diagnosis, helping identify heart-related problems

Cardiologist performs non-invasive cardiology diagnostics by using ultrasound machine
Cardiology is the area of medicine that looks after your heart, helping to diagnose and treat any problems with your heart or blood vessels (your cardiovascular system). A heart specialist is known as a cardiologist

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.

The symptoms of heart problems can differ from person to person, and the same symptoms can also indicate a wide variety of other problems. In order to identify whether you have heart problems and diagnose what these are, your consultant will run a selection of diagnostic tests.

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.

The cost of your diagnostics will depend on factors including which test(s) you are having, where you are having them, and why they have been recommended. Below are links through to pages on some of the tests we offer, which include guide prices to give you an idea of costs.

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.

If you have symptoms that suggest heart problems, you will usually be advised to have tests to check your heart. These symptoms might include:
  • Chest pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizzy spells or fainting
  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Anxiety

The most common conditions that we test for using non-invasive procedures include: 

  • Coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease)
  • Heart attack
  • Valve disease
  • Arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Vascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Angina

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.

Some of the most commonly performed non-invasive cardiology diagnostic tests include:

Electrocardiogram (ECG) test

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.

Ambulatory ECG test

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

Cardiac stress test (stress ECG)

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 test

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.

Ambulatory (24-hour) blood pressure monitoring

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.

Chest X-ray

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.

Trans-oesophageal echocardiogram

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.

Stress 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.

Tilt table test

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.

Cardiac CT scan

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.

MRI scan

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.

Sleep apnoea screening

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.

The first step for any patient is usually an initial consultation. Unless your GP or insurer has told you otherwise, you should book your first appointment with one of our cardiology consultants. 

You can do this by calling our dedicated team of friendly advisors, or by taking advantage of our easy online booking system.

At Circle Health Group, there are three ways you can pay for treatment. You can use your private health insurance, you can pay for yourself in full, or you can us our flexible payment options to spread the cost.

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.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private en-suite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

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.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in July 2022. Next review due July 2025.

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