FROM an abnormal heart rhythm to snoring - the cardiorespiratory department at Warrington Hospital sees patients with a wide variety of conditions pass through its doors.

The Warrington Guardian has gone behind the scene on the unit, as well as inside the cardiac catheter suite where patients go to have pacemakers fitted.

Tests to detect problems in the heart and lungs take place in the cardiorespiratory department.

These include testing lung function by blowing into a plastic tube and measuring the heart’s rhythm with an electrocardiogram machine.

And the department also comes to the aid of chronic snorers, with special CPAP machines helping to keep such patients’ airways open while they are sleeping.

Cardiac physiologist Karen Pimblett said: “The ECG gives you a print out of the heart’s rate and rhythm, which helps us to determine whether there are any underlying heart problems.

“Lung function tests can be a little bit daunting for some people, but we try to get them to feel at ease so we can try and get the results that we need.

“Some people will have normal function, and some will have end stage lung diseases like emphysema.

“The volume of air that’s in your lungs is measured - the higher the amount, the more compliant your lungs are but if it is low then that could indicate there is a restriction in the airways.”

Elsewhere in the hospital, the cardiac catheter suite treats patients who may have had heart problems diagnosed within the trust’s cardiorespiratory department.

Staff on this unit both scan patients’ chests to detect issues and fit pacemakers to fix an abnormal heartbeat.

Nurse Adrian Lauder said: “We pass a dye through a plastic tube to the heart, which then shows up on their X-ray with pictures taken at a different angles so that the doctor gets a 3D picture.

“If I ever come in for a test, I want to know what they’ve found on the day.

“When patients come in for an angiogram, they usually get the results on the day which I find is significant because they know what’s happening next.”

And fitting the pacemakers if needed is a also quicker process than might be expected, with patients also remaining awake during this surgery.”

Adrian added: “Fitting a pacemaker can take up to an hour, or it can take half an hour.

“When we fit a pacemaker, we make an incision to access veins at the top of the chest which lead to the heart.

“Wires are then passed through the veins to power the pacemaker, which is popped in a pocket under the chest and sewed up.

“Once patients have been here for a few hours after a pacemaker is fitted, they then go for an X-ray and normally they would then be allowed to go home.”