"Ischaemic heart disease?"

About: Nottingham NHS Treatment Centre(Nations Healthcare) / Heart and lung function testing Queen's Medical Centre / Cardiology

(as the patient),

Chest discomfort prompted a GP visit in Jan 2009, an ECG (3 weeks later) and identification of a cardiac conduction defect, and referral to cardiologist (which I finally saw in April). Myocardial perfusion studies ensued a month later, followed by a letter from cardiologist the next month stating (worryingly and without any qualification) that the results were "positive for ischaemic heart disease", and necessitated an angiogram/angioplasty. This letter was very stressful to receive, prompting a worsening of my chest discomfort, a call to NHS Direct and as a result a paramedic and ambulance were needlessly dispatched. Angiogram did not occur until some 7 months into the process, and resulted in a very stressful intervening period (not good for a heart patient!) during which it was impossible to get information from the hospital as to waiting times or if/when (i.e. approximately how many weeks)/where it was due to take place. Apart from the stress of not knowing, plans for holidays and other committments were thus made difficult. Messages left on QMC Cardiology answer-phones were not responded to, and my GP was similarly unable to elicit information. I am therefore critical of (i) the time taken from initial GP consultation to the angiogram, (ii) the lack of consideration that seemed to have been given to the effect of the letter telling me that ischaemic heart disease had been identified, and (iii) the poor communication/liason by the hospital. I eventually received a letter in August listing my case for September. Fortunately, the angiogram per se was performed efficiently at the Trent Cardiac Centre as a day case, the outcome was good, and I was told by the consultant that "You are not a heart patient - your coronary arteries are those of someone 30 years younger!"

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