What to Expect During a Nuclear Stress Test

Thanks to advanced technology, modern medicine can pinpoint important information that could make or break the health of a patient. One example of an extremely helpful test,  Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI), that is used to examine coronary artery disease (CAD). Those who suffer from CAD experience narrowing arteries to the heart because of the buildup of fatty materials. This results in angina pectoris, or chest pain, and MPI exams can help compare blood flow during both rest and stress.

Preparing for the Test

If you are preparing for an upcoming test, opt for comfortable clothes and make sure you do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the test. Avoid caffeine for at least 24 hours before the test and avoid taking medications like beta blockers or calcium channel blockers for 24 hours before the test. You may take half of your Insulin dose the morning of the test and remember to bring your medications with you on the morning of the exam!

At the Time of the Test

You will receive an IV when it is time to begin the test. The first “resting” injection will be administered and will circulate through your body, but you will not feel any side effects. After the injection has circulated, you will take your “resting” images. Once we have captured the necessary images, we will shift to the exercise portion of the test. We will begin by placing small electrodes on your chest to monitor your heart rate. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill with the tasks becoming increasingly difficult to increase your heart rate. In the case that you are unable to exercise, it is also possible to receive a medication that simulates exercise-like symptoms.

Following the stress test, you can take your medication, drink water, and have a snack. Doing so can help produce better images. Once the second injection has circulated, you will again take photos to determine the amount of stress your heart is under.

The information from this test is invaluable and can help pinpoint important information in your health. If you are interested in learning more information about Digirad exams, please reach out to us at Cardiac Imaging, Inc.

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