Nuclear stress testing is a powerful tool for diagnosing and monitoring various heart problems. It’s also among the services available from Vinay Sanghi, MD, of Heart and Vascular Associates, LLC, in Sierra Vista, Arizona, serving people from all over Cochise County. If you’d like more information or need to schedule nuclear stress testing, call or click today to book a visit.
Nuclear stress testing is an imaging test that assesses blood flow to your heart during rest and exercise periods. The test uses a small volume of radioactive material called a radiotracer or tracer that shows up on the imaging device. Tracking the movement of the tracer allows your practitioner to “see” blood as it flows through your arteries.
Nuclear stress testing is also sometimes referred to as a myocardial perfusion imaging study, a cardiac PET study, or a cardiac SPECT study.
Nuclear stress testing is often performed as part of the diagnostic process for coronary artery disease. Your coronary arteries supply your heart with nutrients, blood, and oxygen, all of which are necessary for proper function. Coronary artery disease develops when these arteries experience damage or disease.
Nuclear stress testing also helps your practitioner create a customized treatment plan for coronary artery disease. It helps determine how much exercise your heart can safely manage and also assesses how well your treatment is working over time.
This form of testing can also play a role in diagnosing congestive heart failure, bundle branch block, or other heart health issues.
Your practitioner provides detailed preparation instructions for your nuclear stress testing. Adhering to these guidelines is important and helps support accurate results.
When you arrive, your practitioner places an IV to introduce the tracer into your bloodstream. You might feel a pinch as the needle enters your skin, but there’s no significant pain.
After a few moments, electrodes are placed on your chest, arms, and legs, and then connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) device. A blood pressure monitor secures around your arm.
At first, you’ll lie still and quiet on the exam table so the equipment can gather imaging of your heart and arteries. Next, you’ll begin exercising on a stationary bicycle or treadmill, slowly ramping up intensity as advised. You can always take a break if needed.
Next, another injection of tracer goes into your IV before you lie back down on the exam table. Another set of images shows how the tracer moves through your bloodstream after exercise. The entire process takes three to four hours, and you can return to normal activities afterward.
If you need to book nuclear stress testing, simply call the office during business hours or schedule online any time of day.