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Non-invasive testing

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Non-Invasive Testing is where we test your heart without putting anything into your body.

This page gives you more information about the different test that we do.

What we do

Within this section of the department, we mainly perform a non-invasive test known as an Electrocardiogram, or ECG. This test involves applying six electrode stickers across the left hand side of the chest and applying one to each limb. Leads/wires are then connected to each electrode which allows the ECG machine to produce a tracing of a person's heart rate and heart rhythm for around ten seconds. The recording can be extended to gain a longer trace and therefore more information for patients who may have any arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms).

It may sometimes be necessary to trim areas of the chest where there may be dense hair to provide effective contact for the electrode stickers and staff will inform you of this if it is required.

Other tests may include:

24 hour and 5 day ECG monitoring - A portable ECG monitor the size of a small phone, which can record a patient's heart rate and rhythm for long periods of time.

24 hour blood pressure monitoring - Similar to blood pressure being taken by a doctor or other healthcare professional, this monitor involves having a blood pressure cuff around a the upper arm which will inflate to take a reading throughout the day and night at set intervals.

Autonomic Function Testing - A test in which a patient will be asked to perform several simple manoeuvres (such as sit-to-stands and forcefully blowing into a tube) whilst being connected to an ECG machine to monitor if these actions affect the heart in any way.

Signal-Average ECG - A modified version of an ECG which records a patient's heart rate over a certain length of time in order to detect subtle abnormalities that would not usually be seen in a standard ECG.

Tilt Table Testing - A non-invasive test a doctor will sometimes request for patients who may have unexplained blackouts. In this test, the patient is asked to lie flat on a special bed, connected to an ECG monitor and a continuous blood pressure monitoring device. Once connected, the bed is then tilted so that the patient is almost standing upright and both the ECG and blood pressure is constantly monitored by two members of staff for any changes. Belts are secured across the patients' chest and legs to ensure the patient is safe as the bed is tilted. The patient is then asked to relax for 40 minutes to observe if there are any changes to heart rate and blood pressure that could cause the symptoms described.

Carotid Sinus Massage (CSM) - Usually performed just before a Tilt Table Test. In this test, a trained member of staff will press on the patient's neck in a specific area along the carotid artery. For a small number of patients, this can cause the heart rate to slow down causing their symptoms.

Further information on all of the testing we provide is available for download from this website.