ECG

An ECG (which stands for ElectroCardioGram) is a test that records the electrical activity of your heart. This is done by placing electrodes across your chest and limbs.  The signals are sent to a machine called an electrocardiograph, which displays the results as a continuous line with a series of up and down waves and spikes. (see below)

What to bring

  • Referral forms
  • Concession cards (Medicare, DVA and/or private health fund cards)
  • A list of your current medication

Pre-procedure instructions

  • There is no special preparation required for an ECG

Procedure

  • ECG dots are placed across your chest and limbs
  • Your chest may be shaved in small areas if you are very hairy
  • You will be required to lay still for 10 seconds while the recording is taking place

Results

  • The ECG will be taken prior or during your appointment and will be reviewed by your cardiologist

Discharge

  • Once your ECG has been sighted by the cardiologist you will be fine to go home. If your ECG shows any abnormalities, your cardiologist will discuss further tests that may be required.

Holter Monitor

A Holter monitor is a small, portable battery-operated device that records your heart rhythm for a 24-hour period.

An ECG (see above) gives your doctor a look at your heart’s activity at only one point in time where as a Holter monitor records your hearts rhythm for a longer period of time (usually 24 hours).  A Holter monitor may be required for any of the following reasons:

  • For detection of an irregular heart beat that may come and go and is not always picked up on routine ECGs.
  • To observe your heart rhythm especially if you have experienced palpitations or other symptoms such as dizziness, skipping heart or feeling faint
  • To observe your heart for any irregular arrhythmias which may arise from a heart condition
  • Monitor your heart after commencing new medicines
  • To determine if your heart is getting enough oxygen to meet its needs

If you have a pacemaker and feel dizzy, your doctor may use a Holter monitor to find out if your pacemaker is working properly

What to bring

  • A current referral from your GP or specialist
  • Medicare card and any concession cards as well as private health insurance details
  • B. Full payment will be required on the day of the test.

Pre-procedure instructions

  • Wear a loose-fitting shirt or top as the practice nurse/technician will need access to the chest area

Procedure

  • Your skin will be clean and prepared for ECG electrode placements (Your chest may be shaved in small areas if you are very hairy)
  • ECG dots are placed across your chest
  • The dots may be secured with tape (Please advise the practice nurse/technician if you have any allergies to tapes etc)
  • Once the electrodes are in place, the practice nurse will help you put the Holter monitor on and explains how to take care of it. 

You can carry the monitor in a pocket or pouch, slung across your shoulders and neck like a purse or camera, or attach it to your waist.

Do your usual activities while you wear the monitor with these exceptions:

  • Don’t bathe, shower or swim while wearing the monitor.
  • Don’t have X-rays while wearing the monitor.
  • Stay away from metal detectors or large magnets.
  • Don’t scratch around the dots
  • Should an electrode fall off simply tape it back down
  • Please reconnect any leads if they become disconnected

The practice nurse/technician will show you how to press the event button on the Holter monitor if you feel any of the following symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skipping, racing or palpating heart beats
  • Generally unwell

If it is too difficult to press the button the practice nurse/technician will ask you to keep an accurate diary of any of the above events.  Your diary will be compared to any changes in your ECG recorded by the Holter Monitor.

The monitor is not painful to wear and has no associated risks.

Results

  • After the test period, please return to Central Park Specialist Centre and the practice nurse/technician will remove the monitor. She will upload the recording of your heart activity into the computer and prepare a report for your doctor. This will include any notes in your diary, if you chose to write down any events instead of using the events button on the monitor. You should get the results of the test in one or two weeks

Discharge

  • Once your Holter monitor has been removed you are free to leave

Stress Test

What is it?

An Exercise Stress Test measures and records your heart's electrical activity while you are walking on a treadmill. The treadmill will increase in speed and slope at specific intervals and your heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiogram (ECG) will be continually monitored. A cardiologist and a cardiac nurse/technician will be present at all times. This test takes approximately 30 minutes.

Preparation

  • There is no specific preparation required.

What to wear

  • Patients should wear comfortable loose clothes such as tracksuit pants or shorts and comfortable walking shoes such as runners. Chest hair may need to be shaved to allow the electrodes to adhere to the skin. The practice nurse/technician will do this at the time of the test.  A gown will be supplied.

What to bring on the day

  • A current referral from your GP or specialist
  • Medicare card
  • Any concession or health insurance cards

Risks

  • This test is usually performed on patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease, therefore there is a minimal risk of complication. A major potential complication is suffering a heart attack during exercise testing. The risk of this occurring is rare and death has very rarely been reported (1 in 10,000). The room is equipped with experienced staff and emergency equipment should an emergency situation arise.

Results

  • The cardiologist will verbally provide you with the results at the end of the test and a report will be forwarded to your referring doctor within 24-48 hours. If the cardiologist dictates a letter, this will be sent at a later time.

Full payment will be required on the day of the test.

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram

What is it?

A Stress Echocardiogram or “stress echo” is a combination of an ultrasound and exercise test. The test compares how your heart muscle is pumping before and after exercise. This test takes about 40 minutes.

Preparation

  • Take your usual medications on the day of the test unless your cardiologist tells you otherwise.

What to wear

  • Patients should wear comfortable loose clothes such as tracksuit pants or shorts and comfortable walking shoes such as runners. Chest hair may need to be shaved to allow the electrodes to adhere to the skin. The practice nurse/technician will do this at the time of the test.  A loose gown will be supplied.

Procedure

The cardiac sonographer will take images of your heart whilst at rest. A water-soluble gel is used as a contact medium between the probe and your chest wall to improve image quality. You will feel pressure on your chest where the sonographer is imaging.

Once the resting images have been taken you will be connected to an ECG machine used to perform a standard treadmill exercise test. A cardiologist will be present throughout this part of the test and your blood pressure, heart rate and symptoms will be constantly monitored. The treadmill will increase in speed and slope. It will be stopped when you cannot walk/run any further, when you have reached an appropriate target or at the cardiologist’s discretion.

At the end of the exercise test the sonographer will take more images of your heart before your heart rate slows down. Collecting these pictures can be difficult after exercise due to your increased breathing effort and you may be asked alter your breathing pattern in order to obtain good quality images. The cardiologist will compare the resting images to those taken at maximum exertion.

What to bring on the day

  • A current referral from your GP or specialist
  • Medicare card
  • Any concession or health insurance cards

Results

  • The cardiologist will verbally provide you with the results at the end of the test and a report of your results will be forwarded to your referring doctor.

Risks

  • There is a minimal risk of complication. A major potential complication is suffering a heart attack during exercise testing. The risk of this occurring is rare and death has very rarely been reported (1 in 10,000). The room is equipped with experienced staff and emergency equipment should an emergency arise.

Full payment will be required on the day of the test.