Stress echo is most commonly used in patients experiencing chest pain to look for coronary heart disease. The chest pain may be a sign that the heart is not getting enough blood when it needs it – often referred to as angina – and stress echo can detect this. Stress echo can also be used to check how well the heart works in patients with valve disease (e.g. narrow or leaky heart valves) and in patients with heart failure also.
Northwick Park Hospital performs more than 2000 stress echo tests each year and this is more than any other hospital in the country.
This enables the doctor or technician to diagnose many types of heart muscle and valve disease, follow the progress of disease over time, to plan medical and surgical treatment, and to evaluate the success of this treatment.
There are two main types of echocardiogram:
1) Transthoracic echocardiogram: this is the most common type of echo where the hand held ultrasound device is placed over several parts of the chest. This is safe and painless with the entire procedure taking less than 30 minutes.
2) Trans-oesophageal echocardiogram (TOE): this involves placing a small ultrasound probe into the gullet. The gullet is located very close to the heart. This means that the heart can be viewed and assessed in even greater detail.
The latest technology allows us to view the heart in three-dimension (3D) using echo. It’s almost as if the doctor is looking at the heart with his own eyes!
We perform around 6000 scans a year making this department one of the busiest in the country.
ECG & Exercise ECG
As frequently heart symptoms first start to show atonally when exercising, it will sometimes be helpful to record this when exercising on a treadmill or exercise bike.
Angiography & Angioplasty with Stenting
Tablets have to be taken for a year after this procedure to reduce the clotting mechanism of the blood and prevent the stent becoming blocked. If there are numerous blockages or if this procedure is unable to be performed, patients may be referred for a bypass operation.