Cardiology

Cardiology

Cardiology is a medical specialty to diagnose, assess and treat diseases and defects of the heart and blood vessels (the cardiovascular system).

You might visit the cardiology department at Barts Health to receive investigation and treatment for heart conditions such as arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Find out more about our cardiology services:

Advanced diagnostic procedures

We're one of the leading advanced cardiac imaging centres in the country. Our imaging department contains the very latest diagnostic equipment including:

  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR)  
  • Cardiac computed tomography (CT)
  • Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS)

This technology helps our clinicians make accurate diagnoses and surgical plans.

We also provide physical measurement investigations such as ECGs (electrocardiograms), echocardiograms, exercise tolerance tests, seven day event recorders, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring and 24 hour tape monitoring.

We use all these techniques to aid diagnosis and monitor the treatment of conditions including ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmias, heart failure, hypertension, valvular heart disease and heart muscle disease.

Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and education that will help you get back to everyday life as quickly as possible. The aim is to provide support and information that will reduce the risk of further heart problems in the future. It will help you regain confidence and plan a healthy lifestyle.

Our team includes specialist nurses and other professionals such as physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, dieticians, pharmacists and a clinical psychologist. We offer a choice of programmes that include education sessions, relaxation and physical exercise.

Coronary angiography

This is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure that accesses the coronary arteries from the radial (wrist) and femoral (groin) artery using a catheter to look at the coronary arteries (blood vessels supplying the muscle of the heart)

Coronary angioplasty

Angioplasty is a technique that’s an extension of coronary angiography and used to treat narrowing of the arteries. This is achieved by inflating a tiny balloon and inserting a supporting stent to stop the artery from narrowing and becoming blocked.

Clinics

We run a range of cardiology clinics for patients across all our sites. Some clinics help people with specialist conditions, while others are designed to encourage independence and help with rehabilitation following treatment. 

We run specialist clinics to help patients with heart failure. This condition occurs when the heart muscle isn’t able to pump as efficiently as it should and can cause tiredness, breathlessness and fluid overload. Our heart failure clinics are run by specialist nurses, pharmacists and consultants with an interest in heart failure. The aim is to help patients self-manage their condition through lifestyle advice and support.

You will need to talk to your GP or hospital doctor if you would like a referral.

Device therapy (electrophysiology)

Our electrophysiology experts are skilled at assessing and treating electrical conduction diseases of the heart. There are now very effective therapies that can protect the heart, usually in the form of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator. We also implant biventricular devices to help improve the symptoms of heart failure. A total of around 1100 devices a year are implanted at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. In addition we also implant left atrial occlusion devices which help to reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation (AF) who cannot take blood thinning drugs.

Heart attack services

A heart attack is a serious event and receiving specialist treatment as soon as possible greatly improves survival and recovery. The Heart Attack Centre provides dedicated emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing rapid access to a team with the specialist expertise and equipment required to treat someone who has had a heart attack, in a state-of-the-art hospital.

Ambulance crews are trained to recognise the signs of a heart attack and to bring the patient directly to the Heart Attack Centre instead of an emergency department. This may mean that ambulance crews bypass hospitals that might be nearer, but this is to ensure the correct treatment is available as quickly as possible.

Heart rhythm treatments

We are the only centre in the country to provide 24/7 emergency heart rhythm treatments including permanent pacemaker implantation and catheter ablation for life threatening problems like ventricular tachycardia. We also offer pioneering treatments for patients with irregular heart rhythms.

Most patients can undergo non-surgical correction with state-of-the-art cardiac mapping systems. Our team pioneered the catheter ablation procedure to treat atrial fibrillation (the most common abnormal heart rhythm) and we now perform around 400 every year.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVI)

Aortic stenosis is a condition where the main outlet valve of the heart – ‘the aortic valve’ – becomes thickened and stiffened, preventing normal opening and causing breathlessness and heart failure. At present this condition is generally treated with conventional aortic valve replacement (open heart) surgery. TAVI allows replacement of the valve with a keyhole procedure and this is particularly useful in more elderly and frail patients.

The prosthetic valve is approximately 2cm in height and 2.5cm in width and is made of bovine pericardium (for the valve leaflets) and cobalt chromium (for the supporting stent scaffold).

We have been successfully performing this procedure since 2008, and have established research projects comparing the clinical and quality of life benefits of conventional aortic valve surgery and TAVI.

Read more about our heart valve service.

Treatments for heart muscle diseases

Diseases that affect the muscle of the heart can be caused by inherited (genetic) or acquired (infection) causes. Within the heart muscle unit we have a team of specialist consultants using state-of-the-art imaging to diagnose and treat these conditions. We offer a wide range of therapies ranging from medical (tablets) to intervention, including surgery. We are one of the leading sites offering alcohol septal ablation (a minimally invasive treatment for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and attract patients from across the UK.