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Heart Education Awareness Resource and Training through E-learning

01: Common Cardiac Investigations

Common cardiac investigations

We have now reviewed the healthy heart. The next section will describe an overview of some of common investigations for the diagnosis, assessment, or exclusion of cardiac disease. These will follow a full clinical consultation and examination.

Name of testWhat it isRationale
Pulse Manual measurement of arterial pulse. To measure number of heartbeats per minute (rate), assess if pulse is regular or not (rhythm) and identify strength (volume) of pulse.
Blood pressure (BP) Recorded as two readings: systolic and diastolic, e.g., 120/80mmHg
  • Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) involves someone wearing a device that automatically takes blood pressure readings at intervals
  • Home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) allows someone to measure their blood pressure at home.
High blood pressure very rarely has any symptoms. Measuring someone’s blood pressure is the only way to know what it is. ABPM provides a full 24-hour profile of someone’s blood pressure. HBPM can reduce the "white coat effect" and can provide several recordings over a number of days. It also promotes self management.
Venous blood tests
  • Full blood count (FBC)
  • Urea & Electrolytes (U's and E’s)
  • Glucose (G)
  • Liver function (LFT) and thyroid function tests (TFT)
  • Full lipid profile (TC, HDL, LDL, Trigs)
  • Troponin
To assess general health, risk factors for cardiovascular disease or damage to heart muscle.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) Recording of the electrical signal between electrodes which are placed on chest, wrist and ankles. Provides a recording of the electrical activity of the heart in the form of a graph.
Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) Type of ECG which records the electrical activity of the heart when walking and talking on a treadmill and/or bike. Can be used to diagnose angina and assess its severity.
Echocardiogram (‘echo’) Ultrasound scan of the heart To assess the size of the heart, how well the heart muscle and the valves are working.
Chest x-ray (CXR) Imaging of the heart, lungs, airways, blood vessels and the bones of the spine and chest. Useful for showing the size and shape of the heart, detecting chest disorders and showing any fluid in the lungs.
Ambulatory ECG / Event recorders Type of ECG which monitors electrical activity over a period of time as someone goes about their normal activities. Small metal electrodes are attached to the chest. Wires from the electrodes are connected to a small lightweight recorder (Holter monitor). Used to detect, characterise and record heart arrhythmias.


Module name: Healthy Heart and Investigations

Map name: 01: Common Cardiac Investigations

Map ID: 1551

Node ID: 41213