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The University of Southampton

HPRS2023 Cardiac Physiology

Module Overview

The overall aim of this module is to ensure that the student understands the breadth of the application of science within Cardiac Physiology and building on previous learning develops and applies knowledge and understanding in Cardiac Physiology.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Classify the abbreviations and units used in Cardiac Physiology.
  • Investigate the implications of working in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Become informed recipients of research evidence in healthcare science by critically appraising professional journals and associated literature using established appraisal tools.
  • Understand the concept of “normal” and the calculation and use of normal ranges.
  • Describe the normal physiological variability in humans.
  • Identify and interpret normal ranges to define normal and abnormal test results across a range of relevant cardiac investigations and pathologies.
  • Evaluate the need for calibration and quality assurance for all measurements undertaken in Cardiac Physiology.
  • Examine the clinical framework for, and the principles of: • Clinical Electrocardiography • The normal ECG from birth to old age • Common arrhythmias • Development of a framework for interpretation of ECG’s • Blood pressure measurement • Ambulatory blood pressure recording • Ambulatory electrocardiography • Cardiac stress testing procedures
  • Appraise life threatening arrhythmias.
  • Recognise and evaluate procedure limitations.
  • Appreciate the need for effective communication skills and respect for the rights, dignity and privacy of patients.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the abbreviations and units used in Cardiac Physiology.
  • Discuss complex scientific information in ways that can be understood by patients and practitioners in other areas.
  • Use correct terminology when discussing scientific issues
  • Work safely under supervision.


Indicative Content In this module students will build on Year 1 learning and begin detailed learning that underpins the routine practical techniques. Clinical Electrocardiography • Characteristics of recording equipment • Components and functions • Settings and adjustments made based on patient category • Recommended measurement technique Development of a framework for interpretation of ECG’s • The Normal ECG from birth to old age o Anatomy o Physiology o Leads o Rate o Rhythm o Cardiac Axis o Terminology o Sinus Rhythms Recognition of life threatening arrhythmias • Ventricular fibrillation • Asystole • Ventricular tachycardia Recognition of: • Common arrhythmias: o Sinus arrhythmia o Sinus bradycardia o Sinus tachycardia o Atrial fibrillation o Atrial ectopics o Atrioventricular conduction blocks o Ventricular arrhythmias • The effect of myocardial Infarction and ischaemia on the electrocardiogram Routine Blood Pressure Measurement • Principles and limitations of range of recording equipment used to measure blood pressure o Mercury and aneroid sphygmomanometers o Electronic Devices including wrist devices o Device calibration • Indications for blood pressure measurement • Factors affecting blood pressure including blood pressure variability and white coat hypertension. • Recommended measurement technique • Common errors in blood pressure measurement o Observer o Equipment o Patient o Cardiac Arrhythmias • Normal blood pressure ranges • Definition of hypertension Ambulatory blood pressure recording • Characteristics of recording equipment • Indications • Contra-Indications • Recommended measurement technique • Normal Ranges • Common problems • Analysis, presentation and evaluation of results Ambulatory electrocardiography • Characteristics of recording equipment • Indications • Contra-Indications • The effect of activity on the circulatory system • Recommended measurement technique • Common problems • Analysis, presentation and evaluation of results Cardiac stress testing • Characteristics of recording equipment • Indications • Contra-Indications and end-points • Recommended measurement modality • Common problems • Protocols for cardiac stress testing • The effect of exercise on the heart, lungs and circulation • ECG and functional changes associated with ischaemic heart disease • Cardiac arrhythmias and exercise • Differential diagnosis of cardiac and non-cardiac outcomes Communication skills and team working

Special Features

This module will be supported by the very strong science base within the University of Southampton. We have very successful programmes in life sciences, medicine, engineering and science (including the Institute of Sound & Vibration Research) all of which are well resourced in both staff and equipment. It is our intention to maximise opportunities for our students to work within this robust academic environment by sharing learning opportunities and being exposed to experts in the field. Students will have access to state of the art laboratories both on Highfield campus and at University Hospital Southampton which are fully equipped with learning resources, including ECG machines, ambulatory monitoring and provocative electrocardiography. The human morphology laboratory, for instance, will provide a strong learning environment for our students as they are introduced to anatomy and physiology. In order to support this programme the Faculty has invested in four new ‘Lab-Tutor’ simulated learning software packages with the associated hardware. These will supplement the existing simulated learning equipment (SimMan) which have been used very successfully on our existing programmes.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Students will learn by exploring material in seminars and laboratory practical’s in conjunction with directed learning. Students will be encouraged to take responsibility for the development of their own learning by utilising a variety of means such as multimedia resources, and the library, and by self-directed development of the study skills necessary to access these resources.

Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Practical classes and workshops32
Wider reading or practice90
Completion of assessment task30
Total study time400

Resources & Reading list

Bennett, P. (1993). Counselling for Heart Disease. 

Kumar, P. & Clark, M. (2009). Clinical Medicine. 

Morris, F. (2008). The ABC of Clinical Electrocardiography. 

Bennett, D. (2006). Cardiac Arrhythmias: Practical Notes on Interpretation and Treatment. 

Klabunde, R. (2005). Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts.. 

Opie,l. (2004). Heart Physiology: From Cell to Circulation. 

Wasserman, K., Hansen, J. & Darryl, S. (2005). Principles of exercise testing and interpretation: including pathophysiology and clinical application.. 

Conover, M (2002). Understanding Electrocardiography. 

Ellestad, M. (2003). Stress testing: principles and practice. 

Wagner, G. (2007). Marriott’s Practical Electrocardiography. 

Marieb, E. (2004). Human Anatomy & Physiology. 

Sunthareswaran, R. (2004). Cardiovascular System. 

Tortora, G. (2009). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 

Verghese, A. (2003). Stress Testing: Principles and Practice. 

Froelicher, V (2006). Exercise and the heart. 

Brown, H. (1997). Physiology and Pharmacology of the Heart. 

Johnson, W. (2008). Pediatric Cardiology: The essential pocket guide. 

Bono, R. (2011). Braunwald’s Heart Disease. 

Huszar, R. (2007). Basic Dysrhythmias: Interpretation & management. 

Guyton, A. & Hall, J (2009). Textbook of Medical Physiology. 

Hung-Chi, L (2006). ECG in the Child and Adolescent. 

Phillips, J. & Feeney, M. (1980). The Cardiac Rhythms. 

Aaronson, P., Ward J & Connolly, M. (2012). The Cardiovascular System at a Glance. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Written essay  (2000 words) 50%
Written exam  (2 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: External

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