Heart care and treatment of blood pressure
St George's Healthcare has one of the biggest cardiology units in the country. It provides emergency care, diagnosis, medical treatment and outpatient services for all heart disorders. This includes heart attacks, heart failure, heart valve disease, heart muscle disease, congenital heart defects, high blood pressure and arrhythmia. It works closely with Cardiothoracic Surgery.
In March 2006, St George's Healthcare was named as the heart attack centre in southwest London as it provides a 24-hour emergency angioplasty service, enabling life-saving treatment to be given to heart attack patients. Heart attacks happen when a coronary artery becomes blocked. Coronary artery disease is primarily caused by atherosclerosis or the 'furring up' of the arteries by fatty deposits, and a key symptom of this is angina, or chest pain.
Usually thrombolytic or clot-busting drugs are given to heart attack patients to restore blood flow and limit the damage to the heart but these don't work in all cases. St George's Healthcare is a specialist centre for angioplasty which targets the blocked artery directly using a catheter, a thin flexible tube, inserted via a blood vessel in the groin or arm. A cardiologist will insert and inflate a tiny balloon at the blockage site to re-open the artery. A stent is then used to hold it open and squash back the fatty deposits. Heart attack patients from across Surrey and southwest London are brought to St George's Healthcare for this emergency treatment.
Cardiology has five state-of-the-art catheter labs in which diagnostic and treatment procedures involving the insertion of a catheter can be carried out. The catheter is guided by x-ray images to the heart or its major arteries.
St George's Healthcare's Cardiology Department is part of the southwest London Cardiac Network which includes Epsom & St Helier, Kingston, Mayday and Queen Mary's hospitals and five primary care trusts covering southwest London and Surrey.
The Department is staffed by nine Trust consultants and by nine other consultants from the southwest London Cardiac Network.
Rapid access: St George's Healthcare's Cardiology Department has a nurse-led Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic where patients referred by a GP can get a complete heart check in a single visit. This will include using electro-cardiograph (ECG) which records the electrical activity of the heart and is used to assess heart rhythm.
Imaging: The Echo team at St George's Healthcare use ultrasound to assess the function, size and structure of the heart. Other images of the heart can be produced by nuclear imaging or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Tilt test: Other diagnostic investigations include a tilt test, which is used to assess patients with fainting problems caused by heart disease.
Holes in heart: The Cardiology Department at St George's Healthcare is a national referral centre for repairing 'holes in the heart' and a teaching centre for this speciality. Holes in the heart can be caused when the opening which allows blood to bypass the lungs in an unborn child fails to close after birth or when there is a defect in, the wall of muscle separating the chambers of the heart. The Department also carries out other interventions to treat disorders or defects of heart valves.
Pace makers: The Department has an international reputation for electrophysiology and for fitting artificial pace-makers which regulate the rhythm of the heart. The Department has a dedicated clinic to follow up patients fitted with a pace-maker in order to ensure correct operation and maintenance.
Heart Failure Service: The Cardiology Department has a dedicated Heart Failure Service for patients whose heart condition means that insufficient blood is being pumped around their bodies resulting in problems including shortness of breath and swollen legs. This service includes a number of outpatient clinics with cardiology doctors and heart failure nurse specialists.
Hypertension: The Blood Pressure Unit at St George's Hospital is a specialist hypertension unit for south London. It is the only unit of its kind in the region and provides emergency care as well as taking referrals for patients with complex blood pressure problems including those intolerant or resistant to drugs.
Rehabilitation:The work of the Cardiology Department includes rehabilitation for patients which focuses on reducing the risk of further heart problems by addressing life-style issues such as exercise, smoking and healthy eating to lower cholesterol.
0208 725 1407
0208 725 4406
Cardiology Day Ward
0208 725 1180
Cardiology Inpatient Ward
0208 725 1567