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Heart and Vascular

Cardiac Nuclear Exercise Stress Test

Cardiac Nuclear Exercise Stress Test

What Is A Cardiac Nuclear Exercise Stress Test?

This test uses a radioactive material (isotope) that is injected into the bloodstream and allows the nuclear medicine technologist to take pictures of your heart. Combining exercise (walking on the treadmill) with a nuclear imaging material produces images/pictures that will help your doctor to determine if there is an area of your heart that is not receiving enough blood. The nuclear imaging material is not a "dye". It is widely used and has been shown to be safe.

What Will The Pictures Show?

After the injection, the nuclear imaging material travels through the bloodstream to the heart. The nuclear imaging material gives off a small amount of radiation that can be seen with a special camera. The areas of the heart that are diseased (because of blocked or narrowed arteries) will not pick up as much nuclear material as those with healthy arteries. The computer will process the images to show areas of decreased blood flow, called "defects". The cardiologist will analyze these pictures.

How Is It Done?

The test is done in two parts, resting and stress. The first part is done after an intravenous (IV) is started in your arm and the nuclear imaging material is injected into your vein. This will be allowed to circulate for 30 minutes while you rest comfortably on a bed or in a chair. Following this circulation time, the first scan will be done. You will be asked to lie flat with your left arm above your head. This scan takes about 15 minutes. It is important that you lie still for each scan while the camera rotates around your chest. After completing this scan, the second part of the test will begin.

DO NOT EAT OR DRINK between the two parts of the test.

Part two begins with walking slowly on a treadmill; the speed and incline may increase every 3 minutes. The doctor, exercise physiologist, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm. Average walking time is between 6-9 minutes. When you feel you are near your peak of exercise, the nuclear medicine technologist will inject the nuclear imaging material again. You will be asked to continue walking on the treadmill for another one to two minutes. You will be asked to report if you experience any chest pain or shortness of breath. At the end of the exercise, the nuclear imaging material will circulate for a minimum of 30 minutes. A second scan will then be done. You will be allowed to eat and drink after the exercise part of the test. The scan time is 15 minutes.

The two scans will help to determine if any defects or blockages are temporary, or if they are permanent as a result of earlier heart damage.

How Do I Prepare?

  • Bring all of your signed doctors' orders and referrals with you.
  • Bring a list of your medications with you.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. Especially no CAFFEINE and no TOBACCO the day of the test.
  • CONSULT THE DOCTOR who ordered the test about your medications. Get specific instructions about heart medicines and medicines for diabetes.

Recommended Dress and Footwear:

  • Dress in comfortable, loose fitting clothing that is appropriate to walk on a treadmill.
  • Wear walking shoes or sneakers. NO sandals or flip flops.

How Long Does It Take?

Allow 3-1/2 to 4 hours for the test

How Will I Get The Results?

Results are generally available in about 48-72 hours. Contact the doctor who ordered the test to obtain the results.

PLEASE NOTE: If the results of your test need to be sent to an ordering physician who does not practice at Doylestown Hospital, you will need to provide the doctor's full name, address and, if possible, FAX number. You may provide this information on the day of your visit or call 215.345.2231 Monday through Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm.

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