Appointments

Non-invasive cardiology testing

How to get an appointment

You can ask your GP or other health professional to refer you.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a walk-in service. All other tests are by appointment only.

Changing or cancelling your appointment

Phone: 020 7188 0973

Email: [email protected]

Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to change or cancel your appointment. If you miss an appointment without telling us, we'll discharge you back to the person who referred you.

Before your appointment

Our patient transport service can help you get to your appointment.

If you're booked for a monitor fitting, please make sure you can return the monitor to us in the time given on your appointment letter.

Please read the preparation instructions for the test you're having.

Please don't smoke for at least 3 hours before the test.

You can eat a light meal up to to 1 hour before the test.

You should take your usual medicines before the test unless your GP or consultant tell you not to.

You can eat and drink as normal before the test. You can also take any medicines as normal.

Please wear light, comfortable clothes and shoes.

Please don't:

  • wear a dress
  • smoke for at least 3 hours before the test

You can eat a light meal up to to 1 hour before the test.

You should take your usual medicines before the test unless your GP or consultant tell you not to.

Please stop taking any beta-blockers or Ivabradine 48 hours before your appointment unless we tell you to keep taking them. Beta-blockers include:

  • Atenolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Nebivolol
  • Carvedilol

Please ask your GP if you're not sure whether you take beta-blockers.

It's important that you stop taking beta-blockers before the appointment. This is because we can't give you a stress echocardiogram if you have taken them.

Please don't eat a large meal on the morning of the test or at lunch time if your test is in the afternoon.

Please bring:

  • a list of medicines you take
  • someone to support you during the test, if you need it

Please don't:

  • eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the test
  • drive after the test

Please bring someone with you to help you leave hospital after the test. You'll also need someone at home with you for at least 24 hours after the test.

Please contact us if you:

  • have severe problems with swallowing
  • have had surgery to your oesophagus (the oesophagus is sometimes called the food pipe or gullet)
  • have a pharyngeal (throat) pouch
  • have an oesophageal varices (enlarged vein)
  • need a stretcher

You can eat and drink as normal before the test. You can also take any medicines as normal.

Please contact us if you need a stretcher.

You can eat and drink as normal before the test. You can also take any medicines as normal.

Please contact us if you need a stretcher.

During your appointment

What happens during your appointment depends on which test you're having.

This is a simple and painless test.

We'll fit you with a monitor that records your blood pressure over 24 hours.

You won't need to stay in hospital and can do everything that you normally do.

Please make sure the monitor doesn't get wet.

You remove the monitor the next day and return it to us.

This is a simple and painless test.

We'll fit you with a monitor that records your heartbeat over 7 days.

You won't need to stay in hospital and can do everything that you normally do.

Please make sure the monitor doesn't get wet.

Please return the monitor to us between 9am and 11am on the 7th day.

We'll stick small metal patches to your chest to connect you to an electrocardiogram (ECG) recorder.

You'll then walk on a treadmill (a moving belt).

We'll slowly increase the speed or gradient of the treadmill. Please walk as fast as you can to make the test more accurate.

A cardiac physiologist supervises the test. They carefully monitor your ECG readings, blood pressure and breathing.

Please let them know during the test if you:

  • are too tired to continue
  • are very short of breath
  • have unpleasant chest pains

The test usually lasts between 9 and 12 minutes. We'll take ECG recordings for about 5 minutes after you stop exercising.

We'll ask you to lie on your left side on a couch in a darkened room.

An echocardiographer will scan your heart.

We'll put a small plastic tube (cannula) into a vein in your arm. Then we'll inject saline (salt water) up to 6 times while recording pictures of your heart.

We'll ask you to strain or cough as some of the pictures are recorded.

The test will take about 45 minutes.

We'll stick small metal patches to your chest to connect you to an electrocardiogram (ECG) recorder. We'll also give you a small face mask to monitor your breathing.

You'll then exercise on a static bicycle.

We'll slowly increase the weight of the bicycle pedals. Please cycle as fast as you can to make the test more accurate.

A cardiac physiologist will supervise the test and carefully monitor your ECG readings, blood pressure and breathing.

Please let them know during the test if you:

  • are too tired to continue
  • are very short of breath
  • have unpleasant chest pains

We'll ask you to exercise for about 15 minutes. In total the procedure will last for about 45 minutes.

Your appointment will be in an echocardiography room. We'll check your details and ask you about your symptoms.

We'll ask you to remove all your clothes from the waist up and offer you a gown.

You can bring someone with you or we may be able to provide a chaperone if you want one.

You'll then lie on your left side on a couch.

We'll apply gel to your chest area and move a small probe over your skin.

We'll put a drip into your arm to give you medicine for the test and a highlighting agent.

The medicine will make your heart beat faster and the highlighting agent will let us see the chambers of your heart more clearly.

We may ask you to use an exercise bike instead of giving you medicine.

While you are receiving the medicine, an echocardiographer will take some ultrasound pictures of your heart at various stages.

The test will take up to 1 hour.

We'll sedate you using local anaesthetic. Then we'll pass a tube into your throat. This takes about 10 minutes.

We may also do an ultrasound from the front of your chest.

The whole procedure lasts about 1 hour.

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is an ultrasound scan of the heart.

High frequency sound waves are transmitted into your body. We see the 'echoes' on a screen, which show us what your heart looks like. 

The test will be performed by an echocardiographer, who is either a sonographer or a doctor.

The test will be in a private room.

We'll ask you to remove all your clothes from the waist up and offer you a gown.

You can bring someone with you or we may be able to provide a chaperone if you want one.

You'll lie on your left side on a couch.

We'll apply gel to your chest area and move a small probe over your skin.

It is a painless test and no needles are involved. We may need to press the probe firmly on your chest. 

We often train sonographers or junior doctors. If the person doing the scan has to bring in a more senior person, don't worry. This is usually because they are being supervised, not because there's anything wrong.

The scan will last up to 40 minutes.

After your appointment

We'll send the results of your test to the person who referred you. Please contact them to find out your results.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

We'll give you your results at your appointment. Please give them to the person who referred you.

Contact us

For more information, please contact us.

pals icon

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Is this page useful?