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Your appointment in the rapid access chest pain clinic

Assessment service for people with chest pain


  • Cardiology outpatient department
    Ground floor, North Wing
    St Thomas' Hospital
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 7EH

    Tel: 020 7188 1012

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    Map to cardiology outpatients (PDF 38Kb)

Why have I been referred?

Your doctor has referred you to this clinic because they think your chest pain may be related to your heart and would like this to be investigated. The aim of the clinic is to provide you with a specialist assessment of your symptoms as quickly as possible.

About your appointment

  • What will happen at the clinic?

    Please go straight to the reception desk in the cardiology outpatients department so we can book you in.

    Firstly, you will have a resting electrocardiogram (ECG). This is a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. Electrodes will be placed at various locations on your arms, legs and chest. It may be necessary to shave or clip chest hair in order to attach the electrodes.

    The electrodes are connected by wires to a machine that turns the heart’s electrical signals into wavy lines. A paper printout will show the results. The test is painless and only takes a few minutes once the electrodes are attached.

    You will then be seen by a nurse who specialises in assessing chest pain. The nurse will look at your ECG results and may give you advice about how to look after your heart and reduce the risk of your symptoms getting worse. You may, with your agreement, be referred to other health care professionals who can help you, such as a dietician or smoking cessation advisor.

    The nurse may then decide you need one or more of the following tests:

    • An exercise ECG test, which involves walking on a treadmill at increasing speed and gradients while your pulse, blood pressure and heart trace is monitored by a qualified cardiac technician. Remember that this is not a personal fitness test but a means of determining how well your heart functions under stress.
    • X-ray and blood tests.
    • Echocardiogram-ultrasound which uses high frequency sound waves to produce a more detailed picture of your heart. This involves a wand being placed on several areas of your chest and is not painful.
  • What happens after I have had the tests?

    Before you leave the clinic, the nurse may discuss your results with a specialist cardiac doctor. You will be told the outcome and you may be asked to come back for further tests and another review by the doctor.

    If no further discussion with the doctor is necessary, the nurse will tell you the results of you tests and whether you need to come back for any further tests.

    A letter will be sent to your GP as soon as possible containing all of the information from your visit. You will also be sent a copy of the letter.

  • How long will I be in the clinic for?

    You will benefit by having all the tests carried out on the same day. This will lead to rapid treatment if you need it or simply put your mind at rest if the results are negative.

    Your complete assessment may need you to stay in the department for up to four hours, although your consultation may last for only thirty minutes, depending on your investigations.

  • How can I prepare for the clinic?

    • Bring a list of your current medications with you to the clinic, as well as details for each medicine of the dosage and how often you need to take them.
    • You can eat and drink normally before your appointment.
    • Wear loose comfortable clothing with an easily removable top. No high heels or sling back shoes (trainers would be ideal).
    • Arrange transport home (you will be able to use public transport) and bring a packed lunch if required.
  • Giving my consent (permission)

    The staff caring for you may need to ask your permission to carry out some of the tests you need. You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you have agreed to the treatment and that you understand the benefits, risks and alternatives. If there is anything you don’t understand or you need more time to think about it, please tell the staff caring for you.

    Remember, it is your decision. You can change your mind at any time, even if you have signed the consent form. Let staff know immediately if you change your mind. Your wishes will be respected at all times. If you would like to read our consent policy, please tell a member of staff.

  • Will I have a follow-up appointment?

    If your tests are normal, you will not need a follow-up appointment, and you and your GP will receive your results in a letter.

    If you need further tests, we will tell you before you leave the clinic and discuss your test results with you. You will receive details of your next appointment in the post.