ECG and Echocardiogram Tests
Comprehensive cardiac testing to identify heart disease at an early stage
London Medical offers cutting-edge cardiac investigations, so that cardiovascular disease can be diagnosed early and treated effectively.
London Medical’s cardiac consultants are world-leaders in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease. Whether you are worried about symptoms, have a family history of cardiovascular problems or are concerned about your risk factors for coronary artery disease, the clinic’s specialists can investigate your heart health and provide treatment and support to help you protect your future wellbeing.
Cardiac testing at London Medical
London Medical’s state-of-the-art cardiology clinic offers the latest investigative procedures to assess heart rhythm, structure and function. Some of the UK’s most renowned cardiologists provide expert assessment and treatment, supported by a team of dedicated cardiac nurses, ultrasound specialists, and physiology technicians.
What is ECG testing?
ECG stands for electrocardiogram. It is a quick, simple and non-invasive test which records the heart’s rate, rhythm and electrical activity.
What is ECG testing?
ECG testing takes place in the comfort and privacy of the London Medical outpatient clinic. An ECG is usually one of the first tests performed at the clinic, it can provide useful information; however, further, more detailed cardiac investigations are usually also required.
Sticky patches are attached to your chest, arms and legs. These electrodes are connected with wires to the ECG machine. The device picks up the heart’s electrical activity and prints the trace onto paper for analysis. The test is painless and only takes a few minutes.
The ECG can help your consultant identify abnormalities with your heart’s rate or rhythm. It can also show if you’re having a heart attack or if you’ve previously had a heart attack.
London Medical offers different types of ECG tests to investigate your heart over a prolonged period or to assess its activity when it is being stressed during exercise.
Ambulatory ECG or Holter monitoring
Ambulatory ECG monitoring can be used to record your heart’s electrical activity over 24 to 48 hours. It can help identify abnormalities in the heart's activity that may be intermittent such as episodes of atrial fibrillation or skipped beats.
Three sticky electrodes are attached to your chest and connected to a small portable recording device. The recorder is worn on a belt around your waist for 24-48 hours before being returned to London Medical for expert analysis. You can be fully mobile and able to get on with normal life, however you should avoid getting the device wet so no bathing, swimming or showering is allowed.
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram, called an ‘echo’ for short, is a type of ultrasound scan of the heart. It’s a painless, safe and non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create a moving image of your heart.
The specialist sonographers can visualise the structures within your heart, so that any congenital abnormalities, defects in the walls or valve problems can be identified.
An echo may be arranged if you have heart failure or following a heart attack. The scan provides detailed information about your heart’s function and how well it is pumping blood. The sonographer can measure the amount of blood that is pumped out of the left ventricle in the heart with each beat. This ‘ejection fraction’ is expressed as a percentage, with anything over 50 percent of the blood considered normal.
What to expect from an echocardiogram at London Medical
Echo testing takes place in the comfort and discretion of the London Medical outpatient clinic. You will be positioned on a couch and given a hospital gown so that the sonographer can apply the probe to your chest wall.
The sonographer will move the probe over your chest to see different parts of your heart. Gel is applied to the device to aid sound wave transmission. It may feel cold and sticky, but should be completely pain-free. The whole procedure takes between 15 minutes and an hour.
Depending on your history and examination results, your cardiology consultant may arrange specialist echocardiograms to provide more detailed information.
Specialist echocardiograms at London Medical
Transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE)
A transoesophageal echocardiogram scans the heart from your oesophagus or gullet. This can provide clearer images because the probe gets nearer certain structures in the heart.
A local anaesthetic spray is used to numb your throat and you will be offered a light sedative to help you relax. You will then be asked to swallow a fine probe, which will provide close up images of your heart.
A stress echo can help identify coronary heart disease. It is performed when the heart is beating faster. The procedure is carried out while you are exercising on a treadmill or exercise bike. If you are unable to exercise because of illness or injury, the heart rate can be raised with medication.
A bubble study is an echo designed to identify holes in the heart. A small volume of saline is injected through one of the veins in your arm into your bloodstream.
Tiny bubbles within the saltwater can be seen on the scan images so that defects in the heart walls (either congenital or following heart attack or surgery) can be located.
Expert analysis and treatment
The ECG or echo test is just the first step; the expert physicians at London Medical can help you understand the results, explain your personal heart health and work with you to make changes to prevent heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
Frequently Asked Questions
ECG and standard echocardiograms are painless and do not require sedation or anaesthetic. A transoesophageal echo requires a local anaesthetic spray to numb the throat. A light, short-acting sedative will also be offered, however many people prefer to have the test without any medication.
Dr George Amin-Youssef
Heart failure, valve and coronary artery disease, echo cardiograph. Exercise and stress echocardiography.
Professor Carlo Di Mario
Director Structural Interventional Cardiology University of Florence & Honorary Consultant Cardiologist Royal Brompton Hospital London
Dr Fadi Jouhra
Consultant Cardiologist in Heart Failure and Complex Devices at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
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