Frequently Asked Questions
Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NHS and Public Health England (PHE) are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.
The latest information on symptoms of coronavirus infection and areas where recent travel may have resulted in a high risk of exposure can be found on nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus- covid-19/
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Use this service if:
• you think you might have coronavirus;
• in the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus;
• you’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus.
Do not come to your cardiology appointment or go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
How to I give feedback about the service, make a complaint or give a compliment?
We are continually striving to develop the service and encourage patients to give us feedback about their experience. Please would you use the feedback form here to tell us what you liked about the service and what you think could be better. Your response will be treated confidentially and will help us to improve the way in which we provide for our patients.
What should I wear?
The doctor and cardiac technicians may need to examine your chest and attach sensors to your upper body. Therefore we suggest that you wear clothes – including underwear – that you can easily remove or unbutton completely.
Can I bring someone with me?
You are welcome to bring a friend or relative to your appointment with you. We can also provide a chaperone if you let us know in advance. Please call or email the patient care team.
Do you provide translator services?
Please let us know as soon as possible if you would like us to provide someone to translate for you. Click here to make the request.
Can I use Patient Transport Services?
Please let us know if you have a medical condition that qualifies you for Patient Transport Services and we will arrange transport for you. Please call or email the patient care team.
What is an ECG?
An ECG – or electrocardiogram to give it its full name – is a simple test to measure cardiac rhythm and electric activity. Sensors attached to your chest, pick up your heart’s electric impulses and relay them to a monitor. This provides the doctor with information on how your heart is performing and whether there are any irregularities in its rhythm.
What is an Ambulatory ECG Monitor?
In some cases you will be asked to wear a portable ECG monitor, which records your heart’s rhythms over 24 hours or longer – sometimes up to a week. This tells the doctor how your heart performs when you are going about your daily routine, which gives a more detailed picture of your cardiac health.
The 24 hour monitor is about the size of a mobile phone and can either wear it around your waist, or carry it in your pocket. It is connected to small electrodes, which we attach to your chest with sticky patches. They are completely painless and should not prevent you from carrying on with your everyday activities.
The seven day monitor is smaller and sticks directly onto your chest.
You will need to wear the monitor day and night, as the idea is to measure how your heart performs during your normal routine. It’s important, however, not to get the monitor or electrodes wet, so please take it off to have a bath or shower.
You will need to return the monitor to us at the end of the test period. We will explain how to do this during your appointment. We will analyse the data recorded during the monitoring period, which will provide us with an accurate picture of how your heart performs. The results will help us decide what treatment – if any – you need.
What is a Holter monitor?
A Holter monitor is a type of ambulatory ECG monitor.
What is an Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor?
An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a small device that measures your blood pressure over a set period of time – usually 24 hours.
It works like a regular blood pressure machine – you wear a cuff around your upper arm, which is connected to a small monitor that you wear around your waist. It is small and light and should not stop you from carrying on you’re your normal routine. Every so often (usually 15-30 minutes) you will feel the cuff inflating so that it can take a reading of your blood pressure. The information is recorded and will help establish how your blood pressure changes throughout the day.
The doctor may want to carry out this test to rule out “white coat syndrome” Sometimes people’s blood pressure rises when they are anxious but settles down again. This can happen during a medical examination, which makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of your blood pressure.
Other reasons for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring are to see how well your medication is controlling your blood pressure throughout the day and to monitor your blood pressure at night when you are sleeping. Readings are usually taken every 30-60 minutes at night and should not disturb your sleep.
It’s important not to get the monitor wet, so we ask you not to have a bath or shower during the 24 hours you are wearing it.
You may be asked to keep a diary of your activities while you are wearing the monitor. For example, times you are active, when you eat, take your medicine, relax, go to bed, etc. This provides additional information about your blood pressure and will help to inform the doctor about what treatment you may need.
What is an Echocardiogram?
An Echocardiogram – or echo – enables the doctor to examine your heart using an ultrasound scanner, similar to that used for monitoring a baby during pregnancy.
It works by moving a sensor on your chest, directly over your heart. The sensor emits sound waves that reflect off your heart to produce an image on a screen. This provides a detailed picture of the structure of your heart, and tells the doctor if everything looks and is functioning normally.
The scan takes around about half an hour. It doesn’t hurt but it can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, as the sensor has to be placed between the ribs. This is to ensure that the sound waves reflect off your heart rather than off your ribs.
What is a healthy or normal blood pressure reading?
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries. There needs to be a certain amount of pressure so that the blood can reach your brain, but too much pressure can damage your heart.
Blood pressure increases and decrease as your heart beats – its at its highest when your heart is contracting and pumping blood around your body and lowest as it relaxes while it fills with blood before pumping again.
This is why a blood pressure reading consists of two numbers – for example “120 over 80”. The first or top number represents the systolic pressure, that is, the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart pumps the blood through your arteries. The second or bottom number represents the diastolic blood pressure, that is, the lowest level of pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, your blood pressure should be below 140/90*. However if you have certain medical conditions such as heart, kidney or diabetes then it is usually recommended that your blood pressure should be below 130/80.