Procedures & Tests
We have put together a glossary of some of the most common tests and procedures that a heart patient may undergo.
Angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries), allowing the blood to flow more easily to the heart.
Read more on undergoing an Angioplasty
Coronary artery by-pass surgery (CABG) is done to restore blood supply to the heart muscle by by-passing the blocked area in the coronary artery & thus restoring supply to the remaining part of the heart. A by-pass can be created by using an artery from your chest wall, your leg or your forearm.
To find out more about bypass surgery download our booklet
Cardiac Catheterisation or an Angiogram is the main investigation performed on people with suspected or symptomatic heart disease. A special dye is injected into the 3 main coronary arteries which are then examined under x-ray to determine if there are any blockages in the blood flow.
Read more about undergoing a cardiac catheterisation procedure.
A coronary stent is a small stainless steel mesh tube that acts as a scaffold in keeping your artery open thus improving blood flow to the heart, relieving symptoms of coronary heart disease.
Read more about having a stent inserted.
An ECG or electrocardiogram - is a simple and useful test which records the rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. Small sticky patches called electrodes are put onto your arms, legs and chest. These are connected to an ECG recording machine which picks up the electrical signals that make your heart beat. The test only takes a few minutes and is painless. An ECG can detect problems you may have with your heart rhythm. It can help doctors tell if you are having a heart attack or if you’ve had a heart attack in the past.
An echocardiogram (also known as an echo) uses sound waves that echo against structures in the heart to build up a detailed picture of the heart. This test looks at the structure of your heart and how well your heart is functioning. The echocardiogram can give accurate information about the pumping action of the heart, and about the structure of the heart and its valves. It can be a useful test if you have recently had a heart attack or if you have heart failure. It is also used routinely to assess people with heart valve problems or congenital heart disease.
Heart Valve Surgery
The valves of the heart ensure that blood is pumped in one direction towards the lungs and around the body. If a valve fails, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body and over time the heart will struggle in doing this effectively. As a result you may have to have an operation to replace or repair these heart valves.
Click here to learn more about heart valves.
ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator)
This is a small electronic device placed inside the chest to prevent sudden cardiac arrest due to dangerously fast heart rhythms. These devices are implanted under the skin and constantly monitor the heart’s rhythm and can deliver treatments for irregular heart rhythms.
Read more on having an ICD implanted and living with one.
The job of a pacemaker is to artificially take over the role of the heart's natural pacemaker, the sinus node. Electrical impulses are sent by the pacemaker to stimulate the heart to contract and produce a heartbeat. Most pacemakers work just when they’re needed - on demand. Some pacemakers send out impulses all of the time - this is called fixed rate.
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