A cardiac nuclear stress test is similar to a standard exercise stress echo, but it provides the doctor with much more information by using a radioactive tracer (Myoview). A small amount of the Myoview is injected into the bloodstream in order to obtain the necessary images of the heart.
A nuclear medicine scanner records pictures of the heart by using X-rays to produce images of the radioactive material. The radiation exposure is very low; it is about the same as that in a chest X-ray. The procedure is usually done in conjunction with an exercise stress echo, but it can also be performed using medicines such as Adenosine or Dobutamine that effectively simulate the effects of exercise on the heart if one is incapable of exercise.
The nuclear stress test will give the doctor the same information as an exercise stress echo, plus the following:
- Which areas of the heart are not getting enough blood.
- How quickly the heart recovers after exercise.
- Any irregular heart rhythms.
- If the patient has had a heart attack in the past.
Preparing for your Procedure:
- Do not eat or drink anything past midnight the night before the test.
- Ask your physician if you should take your usual medications.
- No caffeine or nicotine for 24 hours prior to the test.
- Wear a two-piece outfit and comfortable shoes, such as tennis shoes. Do not wear open-toed shoes such as sandals, slides, etc.
- Bathe as usual-the morning of your test or the night before.
- Brush teeth before arriving for test.
- Bring the order for your procedure (paperwork from your physician) with you to the hospital.
- Please bring your medications with you to the hospital.
- Allow 2-4 hours for your visit with us.
When you Arrive:
- Check in at registration on the first floor just inside the main entrance.
- Give your order for procedure (in the paperwork from your physician) to the registration clerk.
- The registration clerk will ask you a few questions to update your information in the computer. Be sure to bring your insurance card with you if you have one.
- The registration clerk will give you directions on how to get to the diagnostic imaging (X-ray) department on the 1st floor.
During the Procedure:
- You will be asked to sign a consent form. Staff will be available to answer any questions you may have.
- You will be asked questions regarding your medical history.
- Sticky patches (electrodes) will be attached to your chest for an electrocardiogram (EKG).
- Blood pressures and EKGs will be monitored during the procedure.
- An IV will be inserted into your arm for the injection of the Myoview.
- A nuclear medicine technologist will record a first set of images of your heart at rest by using a nuclear medicine camera.
- Next, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill to increase your heart rate. If you are unable to exercise, a medication (usually Dobutamine or Adenosine) will be used to increase your heart rate just as if you were exercising.
- Once your target heart rate is obtained (based on your age), a second dose of Myoview will be administered for the nuclear medicine technologist to record a second “scan” of your heart.
During the procedure, it is important to let the physician or technologist know if you have:
- Any unusual feelings in the chest, arms, neck, jaw, or back
- Severe fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- The cardiologist or radiologist will review all the images of before and after exercise (or medication induced exercise) to compare your heart’s function with and without exercise.
- The cardiologist or radiologist will inform your physician of your test results.
- If no further immediate treatment is necessary, you will be discharged.