Our Acute Cardiology Unit (ACU) cares for patients with cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease.
Our ACU is made up of a 12-bed coronary care unit, a 31-bed cardiology ward (called the Sacred Heart ward) and a cardiac catheterisation lab. The ACU in our hospital is a national centre for care for people with cardiovascular disease.
The ACU cares for patients with cardiovascular diseases such as:
We also provide care for people who are waiting for heart transplants.
Once discharged from the ACU, patients are enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation which is located on the hospital campus on Eccles Street. Read more about our cardiac rehabilitation service here.
A Cath Lab is a specially designed theatre where tests and procedures regarding the heart and circulatory system take place. Patients will usually be awake for procedures taking place in the Cath Lab as these tend to be minimally invasive in nature and require only local anaesthetic.
The Cath Lab is staffed by an experienced multidisciplinary team which include Consultant Cardiologists and Electrophysiologists as well as cardiac physiologists, radiographers and cardiac clinical nurse specialists.
A coronary angiogram is an invasive test using contrast (X-ray dye) and x-ray to see if the coronary arteries which supply the blood to your heart, are narrowed or blocked. It involves placing a small plastic tube or catheter in an artery in the wrist or groin. The catheter is then passed to the heart and the doctor will inject contrast into the coronary arteries while using a special type of x-ray. This allows the doctor to see how well the contrast flows through the arteries and if there are any narrowings or blockages that may have caused or increase your risk of angina or a heart attack.
An Electrophysiology Study (EPS) is an invasive procedure to understand the electrical activity of your heart. It is usually performed in people who have fast abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) coming from the top part of the heart, Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) or less commonly in people having or at risk of arrhythmias from the ventricles, Ventricular Tachycardia (VT).
Angioplasty is a specialist treatment which opens a narrowed or blocked coronary artery on the surface of your heart. These arteries bring blood to your heart muscle and when narrowed cause angina. When they occlude suddenly they cause a heart attack also called a myocardial infarction. Angioplasty is very similar to a Cardiac Catheterisation or Angiogram procedure which you will have had prior to your angioplasty and which demonstrated your narrowed or blocked coronary artery. A Coronary Stent is an expandable mesh tube which is implanted into a narrowed artery to permanently hold it open to improve blood flow.
A right-heart catheterization is carried out to see how well or poorly your heart is pumping, and to measure the pressures in your heart and lungs. During a right-heart catheterization, the doctor guides a special catheter (a small, hollow tube) to the right side of your heart. This may be passed through a vein in the arm, the side of the neck, the groin or under the collar bone. The doctor then passes the tube into your pulmonary artery. This is the main artery that carries blood to your lungs. This will allow the doctor to observe blood flow through your heart and measure the pressures inside your heart and lungs and calculates the volume of blood your heart pumps per minute.
An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is a small electrical device that monitors the rhythm of your heartbeat. When it detects an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) it works to restore the normal heartbeat. The ICD will have 1, 2 or 3 leads attached to a box/generator that will sit in your heart and it delivers an internal shock. When the ICD detects an abnormal rhythm, it can treat it in 3 ways;
A loop recorder is a type of heart-monitoring device that records your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years. It records the electrical signals of your heart and allows remote (home) monitoring by way of a small device inserted just beneath the skin of the chest.
A pacemaker is a device used to prevent your heart going too slow and to help your heart beat faster when it needs to. Your heart beats because of electrical impulses that fire automatically once a second from the Sinus Node in the top of the right atrium. These impulse are then transmitted through the hearts own internal wiring to the main pumping chambers, the ventricles. The Sinus Node or the wiring system can slow down as you get older or sometimes get damaged after a heart attack or the development of heart muscle conditions called cardiomyopathies. If your heart has been beating too slowly at times, you might have noticed dizziness or a blackout. A pacemaker, when in place, can tell when your heart is slowing down and so “kicks in” to speed up your heart rate and protect you from a blackout.
A Transcatheter Aortic Valve Insertion (TAVI) is an alternative, less invasive procedure to replace the aortic valve than surgery. This involves passing a valve into the heart using X-ray and echocardiography guidance. The valve is usually inserted through the femoral arteries in the groin and fitted inside the defective aortic valve.
The Mater Family Heart Screening Clinic has been set up to cater for families affected by unexplained Sudden Cardiac Death in a young person primarily to establish the cause of death. We also assess other family members for the presence of the same condition and protect them, as needed, with medications or an implantable cardiac defibrillator. The clinic also assesses patients with or who have a family history of an inherited cardiac condition.
Access to the Family Heart Screening Clinic is by either GP referral or self-referral *
Consultation may include genetics testing and a review of your family's cardiac health (pedigree) **
There are a number of nurse specialist services linked with the ACU. These services provide special care for patients with conditions such as:
Cardiac Investigations delivers a wide range of non-invasive diagnostic services to acute, inpatient, outpatient and referral sources including:
Electrocardiography ( ECG )
Treadmill Stress Electrocardiography ( TMET )
Transthoracic Echocardiography ( TTE )
Transoesophageal Echocardiography ( TOE )
Dobutamine Echocardiography ( DSE )
(Holter, BP and Event Monitors)
Cardiac Rhythm Management ( CRM )
The chest pain clinic offers specialist assessment for patients who attend their GP with chest pain. We aim to investigate patients quickly so we can tell them if their chest pain is heart related or not. The clinic is run by a registered advanced nurse practitioner (RANP). It is supported by consultant cardiologist Dr Hugh McCann and by cardiac physiologists who perform many of the cardiac tests.
The nursing teams within the ACU are highly skilled and educated. There is a focus on continuing education, with monthly educational updates available for nursing staff, as well as mandatory training and advanced cardiac life support courses. Every year, we run the postgraduate diploma in cardiovascular nursing in partnership with University College Dublin and St Vincent’s University Hospital.
Patients are referred to us from other hospitals around the country through direct contact with the cardiology team. They can also be referred by GPs or through the Emergency Department.
GP referrals to the chest pain clinic can be made by a GP contacting the RANP on 087 278 8208 or (01) 860 7036. Non-urgent referrals to the chest pain clinic can be made by post.
Cardiology, Acute Medicine