Ashley gets to the heart of the matter

Posted on Thu, 11/01/2018 by Ashley O’Neil, Chief Cardiac Physiologist

Ashley o'neill

Our Chief Cardiac Physiologist Ashley helps to scan thousands of patients' hearts every year in our busy cardiology department.

A typical day for me usually involves performing and reporting echocardiogram scans on both outpatients and inpatients.

An echocardiogram or ‘echo’ is an ultrasound scan of the heart which allows us to see how well the heart contracts and relaxes, and how well the heart valves open and close.

We see many patients per week; these include patients with known or suspected heart failure, patients who have had heart attacks, patients who suffer from palpitations or angina, and patient’s with infections or other diseases which may involve the heart. We also scan cancer patients frequently as some medications can affect how well the heart muscle contracts. We usually have one or two echo scans to carry out in critical care each day and take a portable echo machine along to these patients, as well as any other patients who are too unwell to come along to our department.


We see around 6,000 patients per year for echo scans alone – we are a very busy department. The Cardiology and Respiratory Investigations Unit sees approximately 17-18,000 patients per year in total which keeps us out of mischief! 

There is a lot of job satisfaction working in Cardiac Physiology, it is a constant challenge between putting anxious patients at ease, while undertaking complex heart tests. The patients at Gateshead are usually talkative, friendly, and take an interest in our job which makes the day pass very quickly.


Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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