Nuclear Stress Test

Nuclear stress test is an imaging method that uses radioactive material to show how well blood flows into the heart muscle, both at rest and during activity.

How the Test is Performed

This test is done at our office. It is done in stages:

You will have an intravenous (IV) line started.

  • A radioactive substance, such as thallium or sestamibi, will be injected into one of your veins.
  • You will lie down and wait for between 15 and 45 minutes.
  • A special camera will scan your heart and create pictures to show how the substance has traveled through your blood and into your heart.

Most people will then walk on a treadmill (or pedal on an exercise machine).

  • After the treadmill starts moving slowly, you will be asked to walk (or pedal) faster and on an incline.
  • If you are not able to exercise, you may be given a medicine called a vasodilator (such as adenosine or persantine). This drug widens (dilates) your heart arteries.
  • In other cases, you may get a medicine (dobutamine) that will make your heartbeat faster and harder, similar to when you exercise.

Your blood pressure and heart rhythm (ECG) will be watched throughout the test. When your heart is working as hard as it can, a radioactive substance is again injected into one of your veins.

  • You will wait for 15 to 45 minutes.
  • Again, the special camera will scan your heart and create pictures.
  • You may be allowed to get up from the table or chair and have a snack or drink.

We will compare the first and second set of pictures using a computer. This can help detect if you have heart disease or if your heart disease is becoming worse.

Pre-Test Instructions

  1. No solid food 4 hours before the test. Water is ok.
  2. No caffeine 24 hours before test.
  3. Bring your cardiac medication with you.
  4. Do not take the following medications 24 hours before your test: Toprol, Lopressor, Metoprolol, Bystolic, Coreg, Carveidolol, Atenolol.
  5. If you are an asthmatic or diabetic patient, please let us know.
  6. Pain medications are allowed to be taken.
  7. Dress comfortably. (e.g., sneakers, sweatpants)
  8. If you cannot keep your appointment, please call 24 hours in advance.
  9. Expect to be in office for a few hours.
  10. Refreshments will be provided.
  11. If you do not have transportation, we will provide it for you.
  12. Don’t hesitate to ask our friendly staff any questions you may have.

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