An ECG is an electrical recording of the hearts rhythm. The test involves placing small electrodes across the chest and limbs and takes no longer than 5 minutes to complete. An ECG can detect abnormal heart rhythms, enlargement of the heart, coronary disease, inflammation as well as the effect of certain medications on the heart. No special preparation is required.
A holter monitor records the heart’s electrical activity over a specified time period, most often 24 hours. You will continue to carry out normal daily tasks so the Cardiologist is able to correlate symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations or black outs with abnormal heart rhythms. The holter monitor involves attaching 7 leads to the chest with ECG dots placed in specific locations to best detect the hearts rhythm. The leads connect to a small recording device which sits in a pouch attached to a belt. Setting up the monitor takes around 15 minutes while disconnecting the monitor the following day takes only 5 minutes. Loose fitting clothing is preferred and women may continue to wear a bra whilst the monitor is attached.
As mentioned normal daily activities should be carried out with the exception of showering as the monitor and leads are not waterproof!
Patients will be provided with a dairy to record any symptoms over the 24 hour period and a small button on the monitor should also be pressed at the onset of any symptoms.
Once returned the information recorded is downloaded onto a specific program where one of our technicians carefully studies the data. A report is then compiled by one of our Cardiologist’s before being sent to your referring Doctor.
Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE):
A transthoracic echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that uses sound waves to examine cardiac structure and function. Imaging provides information on how well the heart contracts, is able to assess valvular function as well as demonstrating the overall size and position of the chambers and major vessels. The test generally takes between 20 to 40 minutes to perform depending on the requesting Doctors referral as well as technical aspects related to each individual patient. Clinical ultrasound is extremely safe and does not involve the use of radiation.
Once the images are completed by one of our Sonographers they are reported on within 24 hours by a Cardiologist who specialises in imaging with a report sent to the referring Doctor.
Stress echocardiography is a test primarily performed to assess for blockages and narrowing’s of the coronary arteries which can result in a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Whilst at rest cardiac function may be normal, following exertion changes can be noted on imaging showing reduced myocardial function indicative of coronary artery disease. Symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath should be reported to the Cardiologist at the time of the test.
The test is performed with both a Cardiologist and Cardiac Sonographer present. Initially an ECG is attached to record the electrical activity of the heart both pre-test, during the treadmill phase and post exercise. A set of resting images are obtained by echocardiography with the same images repeated immediately post exercise.
The test involves a graduated walk on a treadmill which increases in speed and gradient known as the Bruce protocol. One of our Cardiologist’s will be present throughout and patients are required to only perform the amount of exercise they are comfortable with on the day.
Following the completion of exercise you will monitored until the heart returns to pre- test levels. During this time the Cardiologist carefully looks through the images acquired post exercise, to assess for any changes in cardiac function. The result of the test will be known at this point and will be discussed with the Cardiologist.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitor:
An ambulatory blood pressure test involves fitting a blood pressure cuff to the upper arm. The cuff is then attached to a small device which automatically records the blood pressure at set intervals over a 24 hour period. The device sits around the waist in a pouch or can sit around the neck. Daily activities should be carried out as normal with the exception of showering as the monitor is not waterproof. The data is downloaded upon return of the monitor the following day. A report is then compiled and sent to your referring Doctor. Loose fitting clothing is preferred.
Pacemaker/ Defibrillator (AICD) checks:
We offer a clinic here at Werribee Heart for those patients with devices implanted such as cardiac pacemakers and automatic defibrillators. Devices are checked by our highly trained staff with one of our Cardiologists also present during the clinic for consultation. Checks generally take no longer than 10- 15 minutes and patients will be advised at the end of each appointment as to when there following appointment is scheduled, usually 6- 12 months following.