Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test measures blood flow to your heart muscle both at rest and during stress on the heart.

It’s performed similarly to a routine exercise stress test, but provides images that can show areas of low blood flow through the heart and areas of damaged heart muscle.

Purpose

You may be given a nuclear stress test if your doctor suspects you have coronary artery disease or another heart problem, or if an exercise stress test alone wasn’t enough to pinpoint the cause of symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. A nuclear stress test may also be recommended in order to guide your treatment if you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition.

Procedure

  • An IV will be started. Through this Cardiolite will be injected. Cardiolite is an imaging agent that will circulate throughout your heart muscle. There is no known side effects or reactions to Cardiolite.
  • After a minimum 30 minute wait, your resting images will be taken. These pictures will take approximately 15 minutes. Following the resting pictures, you will be prepared for the stress portion of the test. EKG patches will be placed on your chest so heart rhythms can be monitored. This will be done either with a treadmill or with a medication called Lexiscan.

Treadmill stress test involves walking on a treadmill that increases in speed and incline every 3 minutes. Heart rhythms and blood pressures are continually monitored. You will continue walking until heart rate reaches target level and you have reached maximal exertion. Cardiolite is injected 1 minute prior to the end of exercise.

Lexiscan stress test involves infusing Lexiscan through the IV. Heart rhythms and blood pressures are continually monitored. Cardiolite is injected after this infusion. Some side effects may be experienced with Lexiscan but are usually mild. Common side effects include, but are not limited to, flushed face and some shortness of breath.

  • After a minimum 30-minute wait your stress images will be taken. Following these pictures the test is complete.

This test takes approximately 3-4 hours.