Cardiology Menu

Cardiology Diagnostics Lab

Service updates for appointments at WCH

  • If you have an upcoming in person appointment at Women’s College Hospital and you have a fever, cough, or new onset of shortness of breath, have travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days, tested positive for COVID-19, or been instructed to self-isolate by Public Health please do not come to the hospital, call the clinic directly for more information.
  • The hospital is open only to patients with appointments, please see our care partner & visitor restrictions information.
  • Your appointment may be changed to a virtual visit using the telephone or over video. Learn how to set-up a video visit.
  • You will receive a call from us with any changes to your appointment.

Stress Echo room

As an academic centre fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, our cardiologists and technical staff are committed to providing the very best in diagnostic results and individualized, safe patient care while incorporating the very latest technologies and innovations. We offer a full array of on-site non-invasive cardiac testing including:

  • Electrocardiography
  • Echocardiography and Stress Echocardiography
  • Exercise Stress Testing
  • Holter monitoring
  • Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
  • Nuclear Stress Testing
  • We also offer Cardiac CT and Cardiac MRI through the
  • Joint Department of Medical Imaging (JDMI) department

A lab requisition (.pdf) from a Physician or Nurse Practitioner is required for Cardiac Testing. Please fill out the requisition and fax to (416) 323 - 6147

  • What to expect when you come for diagnostic testing
    • You will receive a phone call with instructions for your specific test from our staff when you test is scheduled. 
    • Please do not use body lotion on the day of your appointment. WCH is fragrance free facility, please do not use scented products on the day of your appointment. 
    • More information for each test is available below.
    • We also have generalized information on our Medical Imaging Website that includes more information about Cat Scan, Nuclear and MRI testing 

    Have questions about your upcoming test and how to prepare? Please refer to the information of each test below:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)

    An Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is a test that measure the electrical activity of your heart which can show how your heart is functioning. This test is non-invasive. You should not feel any major discomfort. When you arrive for your test, you will be asked to change into a gown. An ECG technologist will then place 12 stickers at different places on your chest. These stickers are then connected to a machine that reads this electrical activity and prints out an ECG for your healthcare provider to review. All new patients will have this done prior to their appointment. The test will take approximately 15 minutes.

  • Echocardiogram (echodoppler/ultrasound of the heart)

    An Echocardiogram (echodoppler/ultrasound of the heart) uses sound waves to get pictures of the heart. During the test a sonographer will apply gel to your chest and use a transducer (a hand-held wand that directs the sound waves) to look at the heart’s size, chambers and valves. It also looks at the pumping action of the heart.

    • This test is non-invasive. You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel coolness on your skin from the gel on the transducer, and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest
    • The appointment will take approximately 45 minutes.
  • Stress Echocardiography

    Stress Echocardiography, also called a stress echo, is a procedure used to determine how well your heart and blood vessels are working.Echo_03859_1.jpg

    • You will be asked to exercise on a treadmill while your blood pressure and heart rhythm are being monitored. When your heart rate reaches peak levels, the sonographer will take ultrasound images of your heart to determine whether your heart muscles are receiving enough blood and oxygen while you exercise.
    • Do not eat food or drink caffeine, 2 hours prior to the test (water is allowed). If you are diabetic, please keep your normal diet. 
    • Talk to your doctor about whether you need to stop taking any medication the morning of the test as these may affect the test results. 
    • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Wear good walking shoes or running shoes, as you will be walking on the treadmill.
    • The appointment will take approximately 60 minutes.
  • Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography

    Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography is similar to the Stress Echocardiography, however it is used for patients who are physically unable to exercise.

    • For this test, you will need to have an IV (needle) placed in your arm so that the sonographer can give you a medication. This medication makes your heart think that you are exercising. 
    • Similar to the stress Echo we will take ultrasound images of your heart before and after the medication is given to determine if your heart muscles are receiving enough blood and oxygen. 
    • The appointment will take approximately 60 minutes. 
  • Stress Test (exercise test, graded exercise test)

    Stress Test (exercise test, graded exercise test), is the recording of the heart’s electrical activity and blood pressure while the heart is under physical stress.

    • Do not eat food or drink caffeine, 2 hours prior to the test (water is allowed). If you are diabetic, please keep your normal diet.
    • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Wear good walking shoes or running shoes, as you will be walking on the treadmill.
    • The appointment will take approximately 30 minutes.
  • Holter Monitor

    Holter Monitor, this is a small wearable device that records your heart rate and rhythm. Monitoring times may vary based on your doctor’s request. Stickers will be placed on your chest and attached to wires. These wires will be connected to a small box that keeps a record of your heart rhythm to be reviewed.  

    • You will be instructed to keep a diary of your activities while wearing the monitor. It is particularly important to record any symptoms of palpitations, skipped heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain or lightheadedness and fainting. The diary will be provided to you.
    • An ECG will be performed prior to the monitor being placed.
    • You will not be able to bath or shower while wearing the monitor.
    • Instructions for the return of the monitor will be provided to you.
    • The appointment will take approximately 30 minutes.
  • Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM)

    Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), is a way of monitoring your blood pressure over a period of time, during your normal activities which is a better picture of your true blood pressure. 

    • You will be instructed to keep a diary of your activities while wearing the monitor.
    • The monitor will be attached to your arm, and will take readings every 30 minutes during the day and every 60 minutes throughout the night.
    • You cannot bath or shower while wearing the monitor
    • Instructions for the return of the monitor will be provided to you
    • This test is not covered by OHIP and includes an $80.00 fee. If you have any concerns regarding fiances for this device, please speak to one of our staff. 
  • Nuclear Stress Test

    Nuclear Stress Test is a different type of stress test that indirectly looks at the blood flow to your heart using a small injection of a radioactive isotope through an IV and a camera that takes pictures of your heart. 

    • There are two types of Nuclear Stress tests. One involves exercise, similar to the treadmill test above, and the other uses a medication to make the heart think you are exercising. Usually we prefer exercise, but sometimes the medication version of the test may need to be used due to your ability to exercise or an underlying condition that requires use of medication. Your doctor will choose which one is best for you. 
    • Prior to the test an IV will be inserted to allow for injection of the radioactive material.
    • The camera will take pictures of your heart before and after exercise 
    • This appointment will often take 3-6 hours and may require coming in on different days. The radiology team will give you instructions on what to expect for your test. 
    • Talk to your doctor before your appointment to see if you need to stop any medication before this test. 
    • More information can be found here at Women’s College Hospital Medical Imaging Department  Women’s College Hospital Medical Imaging Department
  • Cardiac CT 

    Cardiac CT is a study that looks at your heart and the blood vessels going to the heart muscle to see how blood is flowing to your heart. This test can also look for calcium deposits in the blood vessels.  

    • The CT does involve a small amount of radiation.
    • During this test, you will be lying on a table and a healthcare professional will insert an IV (a needle) into your arm. Through this IV, the healthcare professional will inject a dye that will travel through your blood stream. As the dye is moving in your blood stream the machine will take pictures of your heart and blood vessels. 
    • The dye given in the test is processed by your kidneys so it is important to stay hydrated after the test

    More information about CT can be found here at Women’s College Hospital Medical Imaging Department

  • Cardiac MRI

    Cardiac MRI: A cardiac MRI (Magnet Resonance Imaging) is a test that uses a magnet and camera to create pictures that helps look at the heart muscle and heart function. It is more detailed than an Echocardiogram and can show if there is any scarring or inflammation. Your doctor may order this test if they are not able to get enough information from other tests. 

    • MRI’s does not involve radiation. 
    • It uses a large magnet to take pictures, so you cannot have this test if you have any metal in your body. Your healthcare provider will ask you some screening questions to ensure you do not have any metal when they order the test. You will need to remove all jewelry before the test.
    • Talk to your healthcare provider if you are claustrophobic as this test requires lying still in a scanning machine for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Lab requisition 
Download the Cardiology Lab Requisition form (.pdf)

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