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Vets at Northern Ireland Veterinary Specialists using an ultrasound on a patient



The cardiology service at Northern Ireland Veterinary Specialists (NiVS) is provided by American Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology, Julie Hamilton-Elliott BVSc CertAVP(SAM) Julie established Irelands first specialist cardiology service back in 2020 with the support of her specialist colleagues.  To date, Julie is the only veterinary specialist cardiologist in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, providing complex and life-saving interventions to pets all over the country.


 PgCert(VPS) MRCVS. It is the only Specialist-led cardiology service in the whole of Ireland. Both Julies have a wealth of experience in the management of cardiology cases. Evidence based medicine is at the core of their decision-making processes and both are actively involved in clinical research and postgraduate teaching.

The team are very happy to accept referrals or to give advice by phone or email for the diagnosis and treatment of all heart conditions. These may include congenital defects, acquired diseases and arrhythmias.


Following a comprehensive consultation with a cardiologist, patients are usually admitted for further investigations and treatment on the same day; however some diagnostic procedures or interventions may be scheduled for another time.

Referrals are welcomed for investigation of the following:

  • Heart murmurs.
  • Arrhythmias.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Syncope or collapsing episodes.
  • Coughing.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Pericardial effusion.
  • Heart testing.


  • Echocardiography with spectral and colour flow Doppler.
  • 12-lead Electrocardiography (ECG).
  • Holter monitoring including 24-hours, 48-hours or 7-day Holter monitoring.
  • Digital thoracic and upper airway radiography.
  • Computed tomography (CT).
  • Blood pressure assessment.

We also offer a range of interventional procedures:

  • Pacemaker implantation.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus occlusion via Amplatz canine ductal occluder (ACDO).
  • Balloon valvuloplasty.
  • Implantable loop recorders.

For pet owners, common reasons for referral may include:

  • Detection of a heart murmur – A heart murmur indicates turbulent blood flow through the heart but its underlying cause and significance cannot be guauged without further investigation (most often echocardiography).
  • Arrhythmia (heart rhythm abnormality).
  • Episodes of collapse.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Coughing.
  • Pericardial effusion (fluid in the sac surrounding the heart).
  • Cavitary effusions (eg chest, abdomen).
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Heart testing – this involves screening for heart disease in dogs and cats, often performed prior to breeding.

The team

Aidan B McAlinden

RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery

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