Diagnostic services

The Heart Centre team provides a broad range of services that enable us to diagnose and treat conditions related to the heart and blood vessels.


Cardiac catheterisation

Cardiac assessments

All our cardiologists have the expertise to undertake treadmill exercise tests, heart ultrasound or echocardiography, holter monitoring and blood pressure monitoring. These tests enable us to see what kind of physical stress your heart can cope with, whether the electrical and nervous impulses that make your heart work are firing properly, how well the heart muscle and valves are working, and identify the effect of blood pressure on your heart and your overall health.

To gain a complete picture of your heart, cardiologists can take pictures of it using a procedure called a coronary angiography, nuclear medicine techniques, or with a CT scanner. All these tests require highly specialised equipment and some require the joint skills of cardiologists and radiologists so they are not performed in the cardiologists rooms. (Visit Heart Vision site)

Once the data from all these tests is collected and collated, our cardiologists are able to precisely identify and understand any problems you may be having. This means, they can, for example, identify if the cause of the problem relates to your heart muscle, its nerves, its valves, or the blood vessels supplying the heart with oxygen (the coronary arteries). They can also identify if the problem lies with the blood vessels in the rest of the body. They then go on to examine any problems in detail. For example, in the case of coronary arteries they go on to identify exactly which specific part of the coronary arteries are damaged.


Taking pictures of the heart and blood vessels

Taking pictures of the heart requires sophisticated technology so Heart Centre has made a commitment to making sure our clinicians have access to the best equipment available. Heart Centre has invested in an advanced Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory (Cath Lab), which is located at St George's Hospital (view map). This machine enables our cardiologists to obtain high-resolution images of the heart and its coronary arteries and other blood vessels around the body including those in the brain. This also enables us to perform angioplasty procedures to fix any problems that they find.

We have entered into a relationship with the Christchurch Radiology Group (CRG) so that our cardiologists can use their staff and CT scanner, a $2.2m Siemens Somatom definition, to get highly detailed three-dimensional pictures of the heart (CTCA). This is similar to having an x-ray. You simply lie on a table and the scanner takes pictures of your heart. The CRG radiologists make sure the pictures are of the highest quality. (Visit Heart Vision site).



Once the cardiologists have the data about the extent and severity of your heart disease they can identify the most appropriate treatment options and discuss these with you.

Cardiac Catheterisation procedure

Reviewing the results of cardiac catheterisation

Medical treatment

We will present the treatment options available so you can make informed decisions.

Nutrition and exercise

Our clinicians offer a wide variety of treatment options to patients. In the first instance, they provide advice about your diet and the amount and type of exercise you need to improve the health of your heart.

Drug treatment

As well as using a range of drugs to help your heart beat more effectively, they can also use them to control blood pressure.

Angioplasty and stents

When this is appropriate, our interventional cardiologists, Dr Clive Low, Assoc Prof John Elliott, Dr Dougal McClean, Dr David Smyth, Dr James Blake and Assoc Prof Michael Williams, are able to repair the blood vessels of the heart. They have special expertise in widening the coronary arteries and inserting stents (tiny wire tubes) into them.

Cardiac Surgery

Heart Surgery

Not all heart problems can be treated with even the best advice, medication or stents. Some people need open-heart surgery. Heart Centre's cardiac surgeons', Mr Harsh Singh and Mr David Shaw have trained extensively both in New Zealand and overseas and provide care that is the best available internationally.

They have perfected the skills that enable them to repair the heart without stopping it beating. This means less trauma and complications for patients than is the case when the heart is stopped during surgery, and their success rate is amongst the best in Australasia.

They operate in the theatres at St George's Hospital. Patients recover from this surgery in the Heart Centre intensive care unit located there. Dr David Bowie is our intensive care physician.


Recovery and rehabilitation

Our team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons provide advice on the best way patients can recover from a cardiac event and reduce the risk of any others.

Care and prevention

As well as providing intensive care and in-patient post-operative recovery care our cardiologists advise on what is known as cardiac rehabilitation - how to resume a normal life after a cardiac event and minimise the chances of this happening again.