Nuclear Stress Testing
Nuclear Stress Tests use a small amount of radioactive tracer, given through an IV, to provide pictures of the heart taken by a special camera. The tracer is given before exercise and again following exercise. The images taken by the camera allow the cardiologist to compare the amount of blood flowing to the heart muscle before and after exercise. Your provider may order this test if you have been experiencing symptoms that might suggest blockage in the arteries surrounding your heart.
What to Expect
- Before you begin your test, the nurse will start an IV and connect you to an EKG that will record electrical signals from your heart during the stress test.
- After the provider arrives, if you are exercising, the treadmill will begin slowly moving then gradually increase in speed and slope.
- Your vital signs are monitored throughout the test.
- The length of the test depends on your level of physical fitness and symptoms.
- Once you reach your maximum level of exercise, the radioactive tracer will be injected into your IV and exercise will stop.
- After you have rested for 30-45 minutes, a second set of pictures of your heart will be taken.
- Once your stress test is complete, you may return to your normal activities for the remainder of the day.
- Your provider will receive a report 1-3 days following the test. If your stress test is positive, your doctor will be notified before you leave the hospital.
- The patient should not eat 4 hours prior to the stress test and avoid any products containing caffeine for at least 12 hours before the test.
- The patient may drink water.
- Avoid any products containing nicotine including tobacco, nicotine patches, or nicotine gum for at least 8 hours before testing.
- Ask your provider if you should stop taking any prescription medicines before the test and for how long.