Initial appointments: £220-£300
Follow up appointments: £150-£200
Usually, you will need to have an “initial appointment” with the doctor where they will evaluate you and ask you about your symptoms. The doctor will then organise some tests and may start some medication. You will often then need a “follow up appointment” to discuss the results of tests and see how you are responding to treatment.
I have given some indicative numbers above after looking at what some of my colleagues and I charge. Different factors influence the cost. The doctors have different costs to cover in terms of renting clinic rooms, paying for secretaries, and costs of medical indemnity. These costs vary in different parts of London or different parts of the country. You might need to see someone who has a particular specialist interest who might have specific over heads to cover. I do my clinics in central and suburban London. I have a special interest in heart rhythm problems and perform pacemaker implants and ablations for conditions such as SVT and atrial fibrillation so that influences what I would charge. Broadly speaking the costs of these initial and follow up appointments tend not to vary hugely between consultants and more of the costs come from tests and treatments. I ensure I select the right tests for each patient based on their symptoms and previous test results.
How much do tests for the heart cost?
Usually in addition to seeing a doctor, if you have symptoms of a potential heart problem, you are likely to need some tests for the heart. I will discuss the costs of some of the common ones. Depending on your symptoms, the types of tests you need will vary. Some people may only need one or two, others more.
ECG (electrocardiogram) – £90-£150
This is the most common test performed and nearly everyone seeing a cardiologist will need one at some stage. This is a simple electrical tracing of your heart. It takes about 10 minutes to do. A nurse, doctor, or healthcare assistant might take the recording and a cardiologist will then interpret the result. It might show heart rhythm abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation, or signs of a previous heart attack.
Echocardiogram – £400-600
This is the next most common test performed. This is an ultrasound scan of the heart. It shows how well the heart is pumping. It can show if there are problems with any of the heart valves such as aortic stenosis, or if the heart is not pumping well like in heart failure. It can show signs of a previous heart attack. It can also show up issues with the heart muscle (known as cardiomyopathy). The cost will vary according to the clinic where it is being done and the expertise and experience of the person doing the scan.
Heart monitors (Holter monitors / 24 hour monitors) – £280 – £1000
Unlike an ECG which just takes a 10 second recording of what your heart rhythm is doing, heart monitors record your heart rhythm over a longer period of time. These can detect conditions such as atrial fibrillation or causes for palpitations. Usually 3 stickers are applied to your chest or shoulders and are attached via wires to a monitor you keep in a pocket and you keep this on for anything between 24 hours to seven days. There are newer “patches” where a single adhesive patch which contains the monitor is stuck to the front of your chest. The cost will vary depending on the type of monitor you have, and the length of time you need the monitor. Some places offer a courier service so you do not have to travel to the clinic twice to pick up and return the monitor. If your symptoms happen daily, you might only need 24 hours of monitoring. Your doctor should judge the best type for you.
24-hour blood pressure monitors £280-£490
These measure your blood pressure over 24 hours. This is the most accurate way to record blood pressure as your blood pressure can be artificially raised when you visit a doctor in clinic (“white coat hypertension”). A blood pressure monitor is attached and you take this home and then the blood pressure is recorded at regular intervals over 24 hours and you return the monitor the following day. This is used to assess whether your blood pressure treatment is working or if indeed you have high blood pressure at all.
Heart tests which appear cheaper than you expect
It is always best to speak to your cardiologist and go on their recommendation for where to have the test done. I have had patients who have directly organised tests before seeing a doctor and come to me with the results and the quality of the test is so poor that it needs to be repeated and so they have to pay twice! Your cardiologist will also have knowledge for which test is most appropriate for you and will know the reliability and expertise of the provider doing the test.
What about other tests and treatments?
I have given a brief overview of the common test and this is based on the clinics I work at. There are other tests that may be needed to evaluate the heart and include blood tests, and more detailed scans of the heart such as MRI scans and CT scans. There are also a wide range of treatments which can be undertaken for heart problems and I will cover this in a future post. Sometimes people “mix and match” and will self-pay for an appointment with a cardiologist and for some basic tests while they are waiting for their NHS treatment or for a second opinion. This provides some people with piece of mind while they are waiting or would like some further advice. If you are concerned about symptoms of heart disease, or if you have a known heart problem and need further advice or a second opinion, please call my secretary on 02045191558 or email on [email protected] to book an appointment.