What is a Nuclear Stress Test?
A nuclear stress test is used to help diagnose and evaluate heart problems such as ischemic heart disease, heart valve disease, or heart failure.
Upon arrival an IV will be started in order to be able to administer the nuclear agent. The nuclear agent most commonly used in our office is Technetium 99. There are no side effects nor any harmful effects from being injected with this nuclear agent. Your IV will be left in place until completion of the stress portion of your test. You will receive two sets of pictures during your nuclear test. One set will be performed at rest and the other set will be performed after your heart has been stressed via treadmill or medication assistance. You will be connected to a 12 lead EKG throughout your entire test. If you are able to walk, a graded exercise test is performed to measure your heart rate, blood pressure, your heart’s electrical activity and your exercise tolerance. A treadmill is used to increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The treadmill will start out at a slow walk but will be slightly elevated. Every three minutes the treadmill increases in speed and elevation. If you are unable to walk on the treadmill the assistance of a medication may be used. The medication most commonly used in our office is called Lexiscan. Some of the most common side effects of using Lexiscan include dyspnea, headache, flushing, chest discomfort, angina pectoris or ST-segment depression, dizziness, chest pain, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dysgeusia, and feeling hot. These symptoms typically subside within 15 minutes after the medication is administered. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout your test.
How to prepare for your Nuclear Stress Test?
You will want to wear comfortable walking shoes, we discourage you wearing slip on shoes such as flip flops or sandals. You will be asked to wear comfortable two piece clothing. Due to being connected to an EKG we ask that you not wear dresses, coveralls or overalls. You cannot have anything to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to your study EXCEPT water and we encourage you drinking LOTS of water. You cannot have any caffeinated products for 12 hours prior to your test. This includes coffee, tea, soda, anything chocolate, headache medicines and powders and sinus medicines. We ask that you refrain from taking any beta or calcium blockers for 24 hours prior to your test. Those medications include Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Bystolic, Calan, Carvedilol, Cardizem, Clonidine, Coreg, Diltiazem, Inderal, Labetalol, Lopressor, Lotensin, Metoprolol, Propanolol, Tenoretic, Toprol, Amlodipine, Nicardipine, Nifedipine, Norvasc, Procardia and Verapamil.
Note – prepare to be at the office for 3-4 hours this day.