Cardiovascular investigations

Cardiovascular Investigations

Cooper Health provides access to a comprehensive range of specialist cardiovascular investigations. Through our roots as Cardio Direct, we have offered non-invasive investigations to patients referred by cardiologists and GPs, as well as self-referrals for over sixteen years.

Electrocardiograms (ECG)

An ECG is a quick, simple and painless test that records the electrical activity of the heart. This can help to identify abnormal rhythms, a previous heart attack or problems with the heart muscle. Six electrodes are attached to the chest and one on each limb and then the electrical impulses of the heart are recorded.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Please avoid using body lotion or oil on the day of the test.
  • Occasionally it may be necessary to shave a gentleman’s chest in order to apply the electrodes.

Echocardiograms

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It is non-invasive, safe and painless. Ultrasound waves are bounced off the heart using the same technique that is used to look at babies in pregnancy. The echo provides information about the heart structure and function, the size and shape of the heart chambers, valves and the blood flow. It can also identify areas of the heart muscle that may be damaged.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 20 – 30 minutes.

24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

The latest NICE guidelines recommend that a diagnosis of high blood pressure should be confirmed using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This enables a patient to have their blood pressure measured at intervals throughout a normal day and night away from a clinical setting.

A cuff is fitted around the upper arm and attached to a monitor, worn around the waist, which is programmed to measure the blood pressure every 20-30 minutes during the day and hourly over night.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 24 hours
  • A cuff is applied to the upper arm so please wear a loose fitting shirt or top.
  • You will not be able to bath or shower for 24 hours.

24hr ECG monitoring

24-hour ECG monitoring is a test where an ECG recording is carried out over a period of 24 hours. The consultant may request this test when an abnormal rhythm is suspected or symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness or blackouts are reported.

Three electrodes are attached to the patient’s chest and connected to a small portable ECG recorder. The patient goes about their usual daily activities (apart from showering and bathing) and is asked to keep a simple diary reporting any relevant symptoms.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 20 minutes
  • Please avoid using body lotion or oil on the day of the test.
  • Occasionally it may be necessary to shave a gentleman’s chest in order to apply the electrodes.
  • You will not be able to bath or shower for 24 hours.
  • You may be referred by your doctor to have this test for 48 hours.

Cardiac Memo

The patient will be provided with a monitor for a week in the first instance. This test is for people with symptoms that occur rarely and can be worn until they experience such symptoms.

Depending on the type of symptoms the patient is experiencing, the monitor can be operated in one of 2 ways:

  • Carried by the patient and held to the chest to make a recording.
  • Worn continuously with 2 sticky patches on the chest and leads attached to the monitor.

Additional information

  • Duration depends on the consultant’s recommendation.
  • Avoid using body lotion or oil during the test.

Bubble Study

A bubble study is an ultrasound of the heart performed while an agitated solution is injected into a small vein in the back of the hand. If the heart has a small hole (PFO) between two chambers, the injected microbubbles cross from the left side of the heart to the right and are detected by the echo.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 45 – 60 minutes

Exercise ECG

An exercise ECG is a test that monitors the heart while it is put under stress on a treadmill. It is used to help diagnose coronary artery disease as some individuals may only have symptoms or ECG changes that are detectable during exercise.

Electrodes are placed on the chest and held in place by a belt that is worn around the waist. The test starts at a slow walking pace and increases in speed and incline every 3 minutes. The test is stopped when the patient achieves their predicted heart rate, or at the patient’s request.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 45 – 60 minutes.
  • Avoid a heavy meal prior to the test.
  • Avoid using body lotion or oil on the day of the test.
  • Occasionally it may be necessary to shave a gentleman’s chest in order to apply the electrodes.
  • Please bring comfortable, loose fitting clothing and trainers to go on the treadmill.
  • There are facilities to wash and freshen up after the test.

Carotid Duplex Scan

The Carotid Duplex or Doppler Scan is a painless and non-invasive procedure that measures the extent of thickness of any plaque build-up within the carotid arteries using ultrasound. The carotid arteries are located in the neck and supply blood to the brain. The carotid ultrasound is used when assessing the risk of stroke.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 30 minutes

Lower Limb Duplex Scan

The Lower Limb Duplex scan is pain free, non-invasive and measures the blood flow in the legs. It is often used prior to varicose vein surgery.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 15 minutes

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Scan

This scan looks at the abdominal aorta and is used to detect the presence of an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakness or ballooning of the arterial wall. It is recommended as a standard screening procedure for men who are over 60.

Additional information

  • Duration is typically 30 minutes