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Diagnostic Testing
Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test

Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test

Cardiac Testing

What is the test?

A nuclear cardiac stress test tracks the way blood flows into the heart muscle before, during, or after exercise. It is used to evaluate coronary disease.

How do I prepare?

You may pre-register by phone one or two days prior to your test by calling the medical center at 274-4353. Avoid both caffeine and smoking for 48 hours before your test, and don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. Bring all of your medications, in their prescription bottles, to the medical center on the morning of the test. Wear walking shoes and a comfortable two-piece outfit, and plan to be at the medical center for three to four hours. Because there are waiting periods, you may want to bring something to read. Be sure to let the technician know if you are diabetic, have chronic lung disease, suffer from knee or hip problems, or have had a stroke. Also alert the technologist to any drug or food allergies you have.

During the procedure

Cardiac nuclear medicine uses radioactive materials called tracers to capture images of the heart functioning. To get the heart muscle working hard, you may be asked to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle for several minutes. When you cannot exercise any more, a tiny amount of tracer will be introduced into your body through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You will then be asked to lie very still for up to 30 minutes. As the tracer travels through your heart, a special camera (called a Gamma camera) detects the material and captures images of the blood flow in your heart muscle.

If you are unable to exercise you may be given a drug that will cause your heart to work as if you were exercising.

After the test

Most people can resume their normal activities after the test is completed. Talk with your doctor about when to take any medication you were asked to skip before the test. Your physician should be able to share the results of your test approximately 48 hours after its completion, and will provide a written report to your primary care physician.

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