Diagnostic Tests

The Cardiovascular Centre are well equipped to perform a range of diagnostic tests.

Once we have received your referral, our cardiologists will triage to advise what diagnostic testing you require. You might also be referred to our clinic for a test only, and will receive the results from the referring doctor. For our country patients, we are able to perform echocardiograms and fit holter monitors at remote clinics.



This is a simple test in which electrodes are placed on the chest, arms and legs to record the electrical activity of the heart. It shows heart rate and rhythm, and can show evidence of a heart attack. It takes 10 – 15mins and no preparation is required.


An echo is an ultrasound of the heart. This test provides images, which can show the size, shape and how the heart is functioning. An echo is usually done to assess the function of the heart and the assessment of heart disease, chest pain, palpitations and murmurs. It usually takes around 40mins. In order to perform the ultrasound, the sonographer or Cardiologist will need to place the imaging probe at different sites on your chest. It is advisable to wear appropriate clothing to facilitate changing into an examination gown for this study.

Exercise Stress Testing

An ECG is performed continuously while exercising on a treadmill to determine how the heart performs on exertion. This test is done to assess chest pain, coronary artery disease, shortness of breath and rhythm disturbance. It takes around 20 – 30 mins. It is advisable to avoid a heavy meal prior and to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for this test.

Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET)

A cardiopulmonary exercise test is an 5-12 minute exercise test (depending on your fitness) that allows us to record the electrical activity in your heart, as well as your breathing throughout exercise. From this, we can take important measures such as how much oxygen your body is able to take in and use. To achieve this, you will pedal and upright bike for 5-12 minutes whilst breathing through a mask that allows us to measure your breathing. The entire process can take up to 30 minutes.

Holter Monitoring

This is a portable ECG monitor worn for a period of 24 hours or several days to assess your heart rhythm over an extended period as you go about your normal activities. It is used in the evaluation of palpitations or blackouts. It takes 15 – 20mins to fit and no preparation is required.

Similar to an ECG it provides information on the heart rate and the rhythm. However, it does this over a prolonged period of time. Shown below are some examples of findings on holter monitoring. You may be asked to wear this for just 24 hours or a few days depending on the indications for the test.

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram

A stress test is either performed by exercise on a treadmill or alternatively the test can be done with some medication that will simulate exercise effects on the heart. During the test, ECG and blood pressure is monitored continuously. Periodic echo’s will also be performed. This test is done to assess chest pain, coronary artery disease and shortness of breath. It takes around 30-40 minutes.

Echocardiography uses sound waves to generate images of the heart that provide information on how well it works. In some instances, it is valuable to assess how well different parts of the heart function with exercise. The most common example is when there is concern that there may be a narrowing in one of the arteries supplying the heart with blood. In this case the heart pump’s strength may be normal at rest, but when the heart is put under stress by exercise, the part of the heart affected by the narrowed artery may weaken its strength of contraction. The detection of this sort of abnormality by exercise stress echocardiography can help to guide your treatment.