Meet Dr Martin Lowe, the heart rhythm specialist bringing his passion for innovation

It was early during his medical student days that Dr Martin Lowe decided the human heart would become his life’s work.

He was fascinated by its beat or, more specifically, those heartbeats where the rhythm becomes abnormal. Discovering how and why that happens underlined his desire to research, to learn, and to develop pioneering, life-transformative– and life-saving – treatments for patients.

“The study of heart rhythm disorders has always fascinated me,” he explains, his enthusiasm still clear after decades of research and clinical work. “Most of the time the heart beats in rhythm, but sometimes it goes out of rhythm. And when it does, that can be anything from someone feeling an extra beat or a missed beat, right through to a cardiac arrest. It's a very interesting area of cardiology, trying to understand the mechanism of arrhythmias - abnormal heartbeats - and why some people develop changes in their heart rhythm and others don't.”

His passion has followed a relentless rhythm of its own since those days of training at St George’s Hospital, London.

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Dr Lowe trained in both the capital and Cambridge before undertaking a research fellowship at The Mayo Clinic, USA. He is now a leading expert working at the cutting edge of diagnostics, research and treatment for heart conditions and arrhythmias at The Harley Street Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK.

Here, he works alongside colleagues specialising in echo ultrasound and cardiac MRI and CT. Together, this stellar team provides a gold standard of care.

His background speaks for itself. As a member, formerly on the council, of The British Heart Rhythm Society (BHRS), Dr Lowe has advised the Department of Health and Social Care on guidance for the management of arrhythmias UK-wide.

His specialism in the area of congenital arrhythmias has led to guidelines for the management of patients born with developmental heart conditions such as holes in the heart, or abnormal heart valves, or for those with inherited abnormalities of the heart’s electrical system. And in his NHS practice, nine years ago he was instrumental in creating London’s Barts Heart Centre, the largest of its kind in Europe, bringing together the cardiac units of three city hospitals and leading a team of 25 heart rhythm specialists. He is currently a consultant cardiologist at Barts as well as Great Ormond Street Hospital.

It is this depth of experience, plus his active ongoing research, which he brings to The Harley Street Clinic. Here, his aim is to provide the most effective treatment for patients suffering with arrhythmias of numerous causes, from inherited abnormalities to the changes in heart rhythm being seen more widely within today’s aging population, and impacted by lifestyle choices.

With confidence, he insists: “The vast majority of people with arrhythmias can have their abnormal heart rhythm corrected, which, as a doctor, is something I’m aiming and striving to do all the time.”


The hospital offers a range of diagnostic tools, with ECG tests, echocardiograms - an ultrasound scan looking at the heart muscle, chambers and valve function; CT scans, looking at heart arteries; and cardiac MRIs, examining heart muscle function and looking for evidence of scarring.

Among his areas of specialism is the development of ablation techniques – a keyhole surgery which aims to correct abnormal heart rhythms by blocking the abnormal electrical pathways inside the heart.

A vein at the top of the leg is accessed, through which electrodes are passed to the heart. There, areas triggering a change in rhythm can be cauterized or frozen. This treatment can transform lives for patients on long-term medication such as beta blockers, which may cause side-effects.

It can also be very effective in treating atrial fibrillation – a condition most common in the over-50s which causes an irregular heartbeat, and for which medication may not be effective.

He explains: “I'm actively involved in new technologies, making ablation more effective and also safer.”

“I'm particularly interested in patients with developmental heart conditions. Often these patients are born with abnormal hearts, but then develop rhythm changes later as adults. I’m interested in treating those patients more effectively, particularly with ablation, and also by implanting pacemakers and defibrillators.”

The latter is a vital area within another group of particular interest: patients with inherited arrhythmias at risk of sudden death. He explains that defibrillators are very small, pacemaker-type devices which “sit underneath the skin”. They will automatically detect a change in rhythm and, if necessary, produce a shock to reset the heart back into a normal rhythm. ICDs save lives.

For Dr Lowe, establishing which patients need a defibrillator for protection through screening, before the worst happens, is a key goal. His research focuses on risk stratification in patients with congenital heart disease or a family history of dangerous arrhythmia. He stresses: “We want to avoid the situation which we still hear, for instance, that a young footballer collapses on the football pitch with an inherited heart rhythm which hasn’t previously been diagnosed.”

He adds: “The Harley Street Clinic provides a clear role in screening patients who may be at risk, and in particular the early identification and treatment of those at risk.”

And with twelve babies a day in the UK born with a heart abnormality, the treatment of children also remains a key driver. This work is carried out at The Portland Hospital, also part of HCA Healthcare UK. Dr Lowe explains: “Changes in heart rhythm that commonly present in childhood are usually completely treatable. That particularly includes a condition called Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), where the heart suddenly beats much faster than normal.”

He stresses the hospital’s approach is to involve the child, talking to them alongside their parents. “The child is always part of that conversation.”

In all areas, the hospital remains at the forefront of developments. “Our ability to be able to offer a very timely ablation procedure, state-of-the-art ablation treatment and defibrillator implantation, and the very best in terms of investigations – it is this that drives me to want to come to work each day and work at HCA UK,” he says.

Find out more about Dr Martin Lowe

Learn more about congenital heart conditions