What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a catch-all term that refers to various heart conditions, each with its own symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatment options. Heart disease is very common in the UK, so it is crucial to be proactive if you have concerns about your heart health. Often, you may not know if you have heart disease until the condition has progressed, so regular heart check-ups can be invaluable, particularly if you have risk factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease. Common symptoms associated with heart disease include:
Types Of Heart Disease
There are many different types of heart disease, and each is characterised by its own set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria. Various heart tests and treatments will be required depending on the type and stage of any heart disease condition. Some of the most common types of heart disease include:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): CAD can cause a blockage or decreased flow of blood to the heart through the coronary arteries.
- Heart failure: This is where the heart becomes unable to pump enough blood to supply the body with oxygen. It is often a result of CAD or other serious health conditions.
- Arrhythmias: These are classified as irregular heartbeats, which could also be faster or slower than a normal healthy heartbeat.
- Heart valve disease: This is where the valves of the heart fail to open and close as they should, which can lead to blockages or leaking blood.
- Cardiomyopathy: This is a weakening of the heart muscle, which results in the heart becoming unable to pump blood well.
- Congenital heart disease: This is a condition that forms in the womb and can cause a range of issues, including holes in the walls of the heart. It is often noticed and treated soon after birth but may not become apparent until adulthood in some cases.
Tests For Heart Disease
The first tests recommended for a general overview of your heart health are blood pressure monitoring and blood tests. These can give a good, generalised picture of heart health, but to identify specific types of heart disease, there is a range of specialist tests that can be done.
The kind of heart test your doctor recommends will depend on the type of symptoms you’re experiencing and the kind of heart disease your doctor suspects you might have. Family history may also impact the type of heart disease tests that are recommended. The next part of this article will provide more detailed information on the most common tests for different types of heart disease.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to build a detailed picture of the heart. It is non-invasive, which makes it an excellent diagnostic tool, requiring no recovery time for patients. An echocardiogram can identify how well the heart is beating and whether the muscles of the heart have been affected by things like a heart attack or heart failure. It can also identify heart valves and congenital heart conditions.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a non-invasive test used to check on the rhythm, electrical activity and rate of your heart. During the test, adhesive patches called electrodes are applied to your arms, legs and chest. These electrodes will be attached to the ECG machine, which will record the results.
An ECG is often used to identify whether you have had or are currently having a heart attack. It can also be used to identify arrhythmias. An ECG is an excellent starting point when it comes to diagnosing heart disease, but often further testing is required to gain a more accurate picture.
A stress test is used to see how your heart copes when it is working hard. It often involves using a treadmill or a stationary bike while your heart is monitored by a medical professional. Exercise brings up the heart rate, getting the blood pumping and allowing your healthcare provider to identify if there are issues with the blood flow in the heart. Stress tests are often done to identify CAD and arrhythmias or to determine the type of treatment or surgery needed for a heart condition. Stress tests are also used to determine if a course of treatment is working by comparing the results of a current stress test to those done before treatment was started.
Cardiac catheterisation is more invasive than the tests above. The test is carried out by inserting a catheter, which is a long, flexible tube, into a blood vessel at the wrist or groin. The tube is then guided to the heart and coronary arteries. Dye is injected through the catheter, and x-ray images are then taken. The dye causes the blood vessels to show up clearly in the x-ray images, letting your doctor identify if there are any blockages or narrowing of the blood vessels. Cardiac catheterisation can be used to identify a heart attack and to find the cause of angina.
Cardiac MRI Scan
A cardiac MRI uses magnetic and radio waves to take a detailed picture of your heart. It is non-invasive and used to identify damage from a heart attack, congenital heart conditions, damage to heart muscles and heart valve disease.
Cardiac CT Scan
A cardiac CT scan uses x-rays to create a picture of the heart. It uses multiple detectors, with more detectors creating a more detailed picture of the heart. A cardiac CT scan can be used to identify weakened, narrowed or blocked arteries caused by CAD, and it is seen as a less invasive option than a coronary angiogram. It is often used first to get a general idea of the extent of heart disease present.
24-Hour Holter Monitoring
Holter monitoring is a type of portable ECG that is worn continuously for 24 hours to record your heart rate and rhythm. It is often used if you have signs of heart disease, but a resting ECG has not shown a cause or is inconclusive. Because it collects more data, including data during sleep, activity and rest, it can build a more complete picture of your heart health. It is a valuable diagnostic tool for more challenging diagnoses or conditions that only occur occasionally.
Often, 24-hour Holter monitoring is used to identify arrhythmias which may occur only under certain circumstances. You will normally wear the Holter monitor for 24 hours, though your doctor may recommend using it for longer. You may also need to keep a diary of your activities during the time you wear the monitor.
Book A Heart Disease Test
Here at Expert Cardiologist, we can provide a broad range of diagnostic heart tests to help you take control of your heart health. Understanding your condition is a crucial first step towards overcoming it, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. We have all the technology and equipment needed to get to the root cause of your symptoms and gain an official diagnosis.
Once you have a diagnosis, our expert cardiac consultant, Dr Karagiannis, can develop a bespoke treatment plan to help you on the path to recovery. We will provide support throughout the diagnostic and treatment process, with regular follow-up appointments to ensure you have the best chance of living a long, healthy and happy life. Contact us today to get the very best care and expert knowledge here at Expert Cardiologist in London. Fill in the contact form below to get in touch.
Request A Call Back
Please fill in the contact form and we will call you back at a time most convenient for you.