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Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity and at rest. It shows how well blood flows to the heart muscle. A nuclear stress test involves an injection of a radioactive tracer that will allow imaging of the blood flow. This usually involves taking two sets of images of your hear -one image before the test and one image after the stress test. Sometimes you cannot do an exercise test because you are too sick or have physical problems. In this event, a chemical called Lexiscan will be given. This drug increases blood flow to the heart and simulates an exercise test.

A nuclear stress test helps your doctor find out how well treatment is working to relieve your symptoms if you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, or another heart condition. It is also used to help your doctor establish the right treatment plan for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Extent of a coronary artery blockage
  • Prognosis of patients who have suffered a heart attack
  • Effectiveness of cardiac procedures done to improve circulation in coronary arteries
  • Cause(s) of chest pain

Before the test - If you must take medications, drink only small sips of water to help you swallow your pills.

Avoid all products containing caffeine for 24 hours before the test. In general, caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, Mountain Dew and chocolate products.

Also avoid decaffeinated and caffeine-free products for 24 hours before the test, as these products contain trace amounts of caffeine.

Do not smoke on the day of the test, as nicotine will interfere with the results of your test.

DO NOT take the following heart medications on the day of the test unless your physician tells you otherwise:

  • Beta Blockers (for example: metoprolol, metoprolol XL, atenolol)
  • Dipyridamole (Persantine) - Stop taking 48 hours before the test

Bring a snack with you. The technologist will let you know when you may have your snack. Crackers, a sandwich, and a drink are a few examples.

No, there is no dye containing iodine. This radioactive substance is not harmful to your body or your organs.

A special scanner (similar to an X-ray machine) is used to detect the radioactive material in your heart which creates images of your heart muscle.

Not at all. When your nuclear stress test is complete, you may return to your normal activities for the remainder of the day.