Nuclear Stress Test
A Nuclear Stress Test provides information about your heart's ability to deal with an increased need for blood and oxygen which occurs during exercise.
You may be familiar with these tests under other names:
- Cardiolite Stress Test
- Persantine Stress Test
- Adenosine Stress Test
- Dobutamine Stress Test
- Myocardial Perfusion Scan
- Exercise or Pharmacological Stress Test
When is a Nuclear Stress Test Needed?
This test is performed for many reasons:
- To diagnose disease of the arteries in the heart
- To help diagnose the cause of chest pain
- To determine the level of the heart’s physical condition
- To assess the degree of recovery after coronary bypass surgery or PTCA/stent (angioplasty)
- To determine how well the heart is recovering after a heart attack
- To identify the causes of irregular heart rhythm
During a Nuclear Stress Test, an electrocardiogram (ECG) records your heart’s electrical activity while you exercise on a treadmill (if you are able) or during the infusion of a stress agent. A special, radioactive tracer is injected into your blood stream. The radioactive dose gives you slightly more radiation than what you would receive from a chest x-ray. It is not iodine-based, nor is it considered "dye" or "contrast" – which is used during CT or MRI tests.
Pictures will be taken of your heart at rest after a 30-minute wait. These pictures take about 20 minutes. Then, for the stress test, electrodes will be placed on your chest. A blood pressure cuff will allow monitoring before, during, and after your stress test. During the stress portion of the exam, another small amount of tracer will be injected through the IV. Finally, a last set of images will be taken roughly 30 minutes post-stress injection and will again take approximately 20 minutes.