Nuclear Stress Test
This examination elevates blood flow to the heart muscle at rest, and during
stress or exercise, and shows how well your heart is functioning. During
the test, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein
and travels to the heart. Images of the heart are taken while at rest,
with exercise or medication-induced stress.
The test is very accurate in detecting blockages in the coronary arteries
and may reveal problems with heart muscle and
blood vessels. It can also identify the severity of prior heart attacks
and help assess the risk of future heart attacks.
The dose of radiation used in nuclear blood flow imaging is very small—no
more than a CT scan. The material is not a dye, therefore there is no
risk to the kidneys and allergic reactions are extremely rare. You won’t
feel the imaging material as it moves to the heart.
Patients who are unable to exercise may be given medication to simulate
exercise for the test. The entire test takes about four hours to complete.