Why Would A Doctor Recommend A PET Scan?

Black and blue hologram image of a human heart.

It can be alarming when your doctor recommends a cardiac PET scan, especially when you’re not exactly sure what the process entails. Positron Emission Tomography, or PET imaging, is used to better understand how a person’s heart is functioning. A doctor will recommend a PET scan when there are symptoms that point to heart disease. PET scans help physicians assess the condition of the heart and prescribe effective treatment.

Why Do You Need A PET Scan?

Many people ask, Why would you get a PET scan as a cardiac patient? PET scan images provide a clear view of the heart’s internal structure and biological functions. With PET imaging, physicians can accurately diagnose a patient’s current condition and potential risk for future cardiac events, like heart attack and stroke.

A PET scan uses radioactive tracers, also called radiotracers, to measure chemical reactions in the body to diagnose diseases and functional abnormalities. For example, a scan can highlight areas where there is decreased blood flow, which allows your doctor to diagnose your condition more accurately and decide on the next appropriate steps for treatment.

In addition to diagnostic purposes, cardiac PET imaging is also used to assess whether a specific treatment is working or not. If you receive a PET scan, you might need a second to monitor your treatment plan.

Why Would A Doctor Order A PET Scan?

A doctor will order a PET scan of the heart to determine whether certain areas of the muscle are receiving enough blood or not. PET scans are used to locate blockages and plaque buildup. They can also reveal whether or not there is scar tissue or dead tissue present after a major cardiac event, like a heart attack.

What is A PET Scan Used to Diagnose?

Diagnostic purposes are the number one reason a doctor might recommend a cardiac PET scan.

Some health conditions a PET scan can help diagnose include the following:

  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Plaque Build-Up and Narrowing of the Arteries (Atherosclerosis)
  • Heart Failure
  • Dead or Scarred Tissue
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart Valve Disease
  • Arrhythmias
  • Congenital Heart Disease

PET imaging tests are valuable diagnostic tools that can greatly improve treatment planning and how doctors monitor their patients’ ongoing progress. In addition to these benefits, PET also does not require patients to undergo surgery, other invasive procedures, or anesthesia.

How to Prepare

Your doctor will give you specific instructions prior to the exam to help you prepare. During this time, be sure to notify your doctor if you have allergies, if you are taking other medications, or if you are claustrophobic.

Medications to Avoid Before A PET Scan:

  • Beta-Blockers
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications
  • Vasodilators
  • Blood Thinners (Anticoagulants)
  • Diabetic Medications

The week leading up to your scan, you shouldn’t take part in any strenuous physical activity. The last 24 hours prior to your scan, you will be required to avoid food and beverages high in carbs and sugar. It’s also important not to eat or drink caffeine the day of your scan.

Contact Us for Innovative Access to Cardiac PET Technology

Doctors use cardiac PET imaging to diagnose and help treat heart disease, but not all patients feel completely comfortable with the idea of receiving these scans. Physicians who invest in on-site PET scanners, or even mobile PET scan clinics, can help patients better understand the purpose and value of nuclear cardiac imaging by providing safe access to it at their own practices.

Contact us at Cardiac Imaging today to learn more about our mobile and on-site PET imaging services.