A cardiovascular consultation will focus on the individual nature of each patient’s problem. A full history will be conducted covering present symptoms, any associated symptoms, and then an assessment of cardiovascular health risks:
- Prior history of other health problems
- In depth medication review (present and past)
- History of smoking, alcohol and other lifestyle risks
Initial examination may include taking current blood pressure, listening to the heart, the neck vessels, lungs (with a stethoscope), as well as taking pulse (heart rate) measurements. Sometimes if symptoms require an examination may also include the abdomen or other areas.
Following an initial consultation, several forms of diagnostics may be requested. Common diagnostics may include blood tests:
- Lipid profile/ Cholesterol
- Blood sugar including glucose and HBA1C (blood glucose averaged over three months)
- full blood count to check whether you're anemic or not.
- Urea & Electrolytes (U&E's), to check kidney function
- Liver Function Tests (LFT’s)
- Thyroid function tests (TFT’s) because that can often give problems with blood pressure or heart palpitations
- Inflammatory marker (CRP)
- In some acute complaints a D-Dimer test (to measure possibility of blood clot) and Troponin test (to measure possibility of heart tissue damage) may also be requested
Further to bloods, an Electrocardiogram which measures the underlying electrical impulses throughout the heart may also be requested.
Depending on the nature of a patient’s complaint imaging will also be requested. Chest xrays may be requested to give a good indication of any basic underlying pathology. More sophisticated imaging techniques may include a specialist ultrasound scan, an echocardiogram (Echo scan) which allows real time visualization of the heart chambers and pumping system.
A CT or MRI scan of the blood vessels are also requested for certain symptoms. These specialist tests may be conducted with specialist contrast agents or agents which stress the heart (injected prior to the scan) to better visualize the heart and vessels.