Nuclear cardiology is a subset of cardiology testing that involves the use of a radioactive substance or substances and advanced medical imaging. Unlike other cardiology diagnostic testing, nuclear cardiology provides more advanced imaging to evaluate, diagnose and treat heart conditions such as heart failure, heart attack risk, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. Nadar at Capital Area Cardiovascular Associates may order a nuclear stress test to help determine your cardiac function and stage of heart disease. If you are waiting to see a cardiologist for a nuclear stress test or another cardiac diagnostic tool, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What Is a Nuclear Stress Test
Regular exercise stress tests measure heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration externally and provide invaluable information about a patient's heart health. Unlike routine exercise stress tests, nuclear stress tests provide an additional data point for Dr. Nadar and give a visual representation of your heart at peak effort.
During a nuclear stress test, also called myocardial perfusion imaging, Dr. Nadar will take images of your heart just after you've exercised on a treadmill. In cases where patients are unable to exercise, a drug will be administered that stimulates the heart. Typically we capture two images of the heart during a nuclear stress test - one at the start of the test and the other during peak exercise.
Nuclear stress tests can help to determine if there is sufficient blood flow to the heart muscle as well as if there is any damaged heart muscle. Nuclear cardiac imaging can also identify the severity of previous heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and the risk of future heart attacks.
Are There Any Risks with a Nuclear Stress Test?
In general, nuclear stress tests are safe and carry low risk to patients. In some cases, there are factors that may increase the risk of complications or issues.
Some patients may be allergic to the dye used and if patients are administered a drug to stimulate their heart rate, they may experience a flushing sensation or chest pain. Usually, both of these side effects are short in duration. If you experience these symptoms during your nuclear stress test, mention it to Dr. Nadar.
If you have questions or concerns about your nuclear stress test, call our Camp Hill or Newport office at 223.225.1120.
What to Expect During a Nuclear Stress Test
Nuclear stress tests take anywhere between two and five hours. During the test, an intravenous line, or IV, is inserted into your hand or arm so Dr. Nadar can administer the dye. Electrodes are also placed on your body and a blood pressure cuff is attached to your arm.
Images of your heart will be taken before the test begins, and then again when you are exercising at your target heart rate. Once the test is complete, you may return to your normal day. The radioactive dye will flush out of your body on its own and does not cause any side effects.