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Do you have a question about having a heart ultrasound? Here at OneWelbeck Heart Health we can provide answers and advice on what happens during a typical ultrasound scan.

Heart Ultrasound Scans – What to Expect

When we want to understand what is going on inside the heart, imaging tests are essential. One of the most common tests carried is a heart ultrasound; known more commonly as an echocardiogram. When someone has an echocardiogram carried out, it helps doctors analyse how the heart is working and that everything is performing as expected.

You might feel slightly nervous about having a heart ultrasound scan carried out for the first time if you don’t know what to expect. Let’s discuss the test, what happens during the examination, and what information a doctor expects to get from a heart ultrasound.

What is a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram)?

Echocardiograms are ultrasound tests which scan the heart and provide accurate information about the heart’s structure and function. The test is attempting to understand how the heart is working while resting.

How is a heart ultrasound done?

A probe is used to send sound waves from your chest to the heart and back. It is entirely harmless, and patients won’t feel a thing when the probe is moved around the chest.

It is common for the doctor to move the probe around slightly while checking the heart as it helps build a complete picture of how different parts of the heart work. The pictures received come as an “echo”, hence the term.

What does a patient do during a heart ultrasound?

In most instances, a patient will be asked to remove clothes from the upper body and then lie on their left side.

Would you be expected to exercise during an echocardiogram?

Sometimes doctors will want to understand how the heart works with stress. To do this they might ask the patient to run on the treadmill or to cycle on a static bike. You can find more information on that procedure here.

How long does it take to have a heart ultrasound?

A patient would expect their appointment to last for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how easy it is for doctors to get the images they need.

What does someone experience during a heart ultrasound?

The majority of patients won’t feel or notice anything while the ultrasound takes place. You will hear the sound of the flow of blood through the heart at times during the test when Doppler is used.

Do you need to take any specific medicine to have an echocardiogram carried out?

Usually, this test doesn’t need the patient to take any medicine. If the patient needs to have a bubble contrast echocardiogram, a saline injection will be needed.

Talk to echocardiogram specialists

If you have any questions about any of the tests carried out, or would like to speak with someone about visiting OneWelbeck for a test, please visit our contact page.

Dr Malik at CSI Live Conference!

Our OneWelbeck Consultant Cardiologist Dr Iqbal Malik chaired a session at CSI’s live Case Day run on zoom.

Dr Iqbal has an expertise in structural heart disease. This includes PFO, ASD, TAVI, LAA closure and Paravalvular leak closure.

To see some of his own cases see:



The CSI live case conference covered all aspects of the disease with experts from around the world giving their opinion on complex cases.

Don't miss OneWelbeck's cardiologists at The Heart Rhythm Congress!

Our leading cardiologists at OneWelbeck Heart Health have been invited to deliver lectures both for patients, and physicians at the UK’s leading heart rhythm conference, the Heart Rhythm Congress in Sep 2020. This year, the conference will be held virtually, and be made freely accessibly to all patients and healthcare professionals.

To register click here

Our expert cardiologists will be speaking on varied topics as follows:

Dr Mark Early:

  • ‘Pacemakers and other devices’ ‘How might Covid-19 affect people with a device such as an ICD S-ICD or pacemaker?’
  • ‘How might Covid-19 affect people with a device such as an ICD, S-ICD or pacemaker?’

Dr Boon Lim:

  • ‘How does Covid-19 affect arrhythmia patients? How might Covid-19 interact with arrhythmia medication?’
  • ‘How does Covid-19 affect AF patients?’
  • ‘New Treatments on the horizon in the new decade’
  • ‘PoTS in teenagers’

Professor Richard Schilling:

  • ‘Treating AF in someone with heart failure: which options for which patient?’

Professor Ross Hunter:

  • ‘Debate: (Pro) AF ablation is overused and expensive and should be restricted to patients with disabling symptoms as identified by PROMS’
  • ‘Mapping Atrial Fibrillation-Where have we come from?’

Arrhythmia Alliance is launching the first Virtual Patients Day

On the 27th  of September the Arrhythmia Alliance is launching the first ever online Patients Day. For only £10, patients can listen to talks by our amazing OneWelbeck Cardiologists Dr Boon Lim and Dr Mark Earley

Make sure you register for Patients Day here:

Dr Malik does live PFO closure

Dr Malik says:

PFO (patent foremen ovale) related stroke is not uncommon.

  1. PFO (patent foremen ovale) is present in 25% of all people.
  2. If you have had a stroke for no reason then a PFO may become relevant.
  3. I have performed 100s of PFOs closures over the last decade and have also taught many others to do so.
  4. We broadcast live to the USA for the PICS-AICS annual meeting.

The cases went well and my team was brilliant as ever. Working on a Saturday for the benefit of the patient.


Dr Malik on 'Managing the heart during COVID-19'

Dr Malik says:

“There have been significant changes in heart disease presentation and management during COVID-19. There was a drop in presentations for heart attacks. In addition,  hospital beds were in short supply, and doctors were sick or sidelined with other duties.

“With the second wave coming, we need to prepare again.  This article from my group at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust helps all of us try to cope better. We were ahead of many in the 1st wave, with PPE protocols, Patient pathways and more. We also began to source our own PPE and set up a fund to help staff in need, on top of the good work done by the national authorities.

Thus we could

  1. Look after patients without COVID-19 disease who has a heart attack
  2. Look after patients with COVID-19 disease who has a heart attack
  3. Look after patients with COVID-19 disease who had serious disease that was mimicking a heart attack

Read the full article here.

Find out more from Dr Iqbal about heart health in COVID times in these blog posts:

OneWelbeck Heart Health's Dr Boon Lim features on BBC's Diagnosis Detectives

Dr Boon Lim, Consultant Cardiologist at OneWelbeck Heart Health, recently featured on the BBC2 series Diagnosis Detectives, which was hosted by Dr Michael Moseley to investigate and treat patients with difficult unresolved diagnoses. Dr Lim was chosen to to be part of this series in which 12 of the leading experts in their fields were carefully chosen to give their opinion to help these patients.

You can catch up on Diagnosis Detectives on BBC iPlayer, with a 12-episode run.

Is Red Yeast Rice an alternative to statins? Dr Iqbal Malik investigates.

Dr Malik was recently asked by a patient whether Red Yeast Rice (RYR) can be used as an alternative to statins, so he undertook some research and found the below results.

After consulting this medical journal, published in 2018, Dr Malik surmised that Red Yeast Rice contains Monacolin K, which in some forms (lactone) is nearly identical to Lovastatin (at statin). RYR is made by fermentation of rice with yeasts, mainly Monascus Purpureus. RYR is traditionally used in China for culinary purposes as a food colouring or as a traditional remedy to promote digestion and blood circulation.

The main points to note are:

  • RYR will lower cholesterol as it acts as a statin
  • It may cause similar side effects to statins and have similar drug interactions
  • It is not regulated as a medicine and therefore does not go through all the checks that statins have to go through
  • It is hard to calculate what the correct dose is. Some formulations have 10mg of Monacolin K, which is probably equivalent to a pharmacological dose of Lovastatin, but the ratio between Monacolin K lactone and Monacolin K HA is variable in food supplements containing RYR. For example, a range of supplements showed Monacolin K levels of 0.05mg to 2.74mg per 600mg of RYR.

So to summarise: Is Red Yeast Rice safer than a statin? Dr Malik says probably not.

New data shows how Heart care has changed in COVID times.

Dr Malik pioneered a day-case pathway for TAVI (to treat aortic stenosis) when previously the stay was several days. Despite this, the national data shows that there was a 50% reduction in this essential procedure since lock-down.  Less “essential” treatments such as most electrical ablations  (over 90%)  and a fair number of angioplasty in elective patients were also deferred.

Read the final report here.

Find out more from Dr Iqbal about heart health in COVID times in these blog posts:



The Four Grades of Heart Failure

Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump blood as it is needed around the body. Failure can occur at any age but is most frequent in older patients.

Heat failure cannot usually be cured, but it is manageable. A major part of understanding how to manage heart failure comes from assessing how bad the heart failure symptoms are. Let’s discuss why heart failure is graded and what those stages are.

Why is heart failure graded in stages?

The stages (commonly referred to as classes) will correspond to how severe a doctor believes the individual’s case is, with class 1 being the least bad and progressing towards class 4, the most severe. This grading helps describe where a patient is at, and how to best treat them.

What are the four grades of heart failure?

The four grades of heart failure are:

  • Class 1
  • Class 2
  • Class 3
  • Class 4

Here is more information about each of those stages.

Class 1 Heart Failure

This is when an individual is diagnosed as having heart failure where symptoms aren’t present during regular activity. Someone with Class 1 heart failure wouldn’t expect to feel fatigued or have any noticeable symptoms while being active.

Class 2 Heart Failure

An individual with Class 2 Heart Failure wouldn’t notice any problems with their heart while resting but will get symptoms, usually of shortness of breath, while being quite active. Someone with Class 2 heart failure may notice heart palpitations as well as breathlessness.

Class 3 Heart Failure

An individual with Class 3 Hear Failure typically feels be fine while resting or sitting down, but would quickly notice symptoms, usually of shortness of breath, on mild exertion, i.e. anything that wouldn’t be considered ordinary physical activity.

Class 4 Heart Failure

With Class 4 Hear Failure, an individual would experience symptoms while sitting or resting or on minimal exertion.

How is someone tested for heart failure?

There are various tests carried out to check if a patient has heart failure.  Blood tests are very helpful and may indicate if the heart is responsible for shortness of breath or fluid retention.

A patient should also expect some form heart tests, including imaging tests, being carried out to help doctors get a picture of the heart’s condition. These tests can include:

Learn more about heart failure

Diagnosing and treating heart failure is important to help symptoms and to optimise life expectancy. A dedicated treatment plan needs to be put into place. OneWelbeck works with patients on an individual basis to deal with both systolic and diastolic heart failure. You can find more information on our heart failure page.

Talk to heart health specialists

OneWelbeck Heart Health provides tests and care for patients experiencing any of the stages of heart failure.

If you have any questions about heart failure, please get in touch, via our contact page. And if you would like to talk over the phone about booking an appointment, call us on 0203 653 2005.

Specialist cardiology consultant Dr Iqbal Malik has been investigating the long-term health problems for patients who have contracted COVID-19.

As with many viral illnesses, some people will take months to recover – the post-viral phase can include:

  • Breathlessness
  • “Brain fog”
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

There is supportive treatment that can help, and a specialist referral may be suggested depending on clinical findings. Patients will be referred to Cardiology if there is suspected myocardial infarction, pericarditis, myocarditis or new heart failure.

Click here to see more information on long-term health problems caused by COVID-19.

Find out more from Dr Iqbal about heart health in COVID times in these blog posts: