So, your doctor wants you to do a stress test – a nuclear stress test. What is a nuclear stress test and is it safe? Is it necessary?
A nuclear cardiac stress test can determine the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD), damage to the heart from a heart attack, irregular heartbeats, and general poor cardiac fitness. Because heart conditions can lead to a heart attack, a diagnostic cardiac stress test could literally save your life.
What is the Purpose of a Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test?
There are five main coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. These arteries are responsible for getting blood and oxygen to the muscle tissue, which in turn allows the heart muscle to contract properly.
Contracting, or squeezing out, the blood from the different chambers in the heart and out into the body is a vital process necessary for life. If there is a blockage and the heart is not functioning properly, this could cause symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue, and possibly lead to a heart attack.
The test uses a small amount of a radioactive isotope that is injected into the blood, and then a scan is done that shows how the blood is filling in the heart muscle. In other words, it shows if there are any blockages in the coronary arteries and determines if your heart has an adequate blood supply. The radioactive isotope has no effect on your body or health in any way. It is safe and has been used to diagnose coronary artery disease since at least the 1980s.
How is a Nuclear Stress Test Different From Other Stress Tests?
There are many kinds of stress testing for the heart. A plain stress test, which is performed on a treadmill with an EKG (electrocardiogram), checks the electrical connections of the heart. Another is a stress echocardiogram, which shows blood flow and opening and closing of the different valves between the atrial and ventricle chambers of the heart.
Each of these are important tests that have their own part to play when diagnosing possible coronary artery disease, just as a nuclear stress test has its place as well. A nuclear stress test should be used when it’s necessary to measure the volume of blood flow to your heart while you’re at rest as well as when your heart has been stressed through exercise. Your doctor will determine which type is best for your condition, and many times more than one type of test is necessary.
Here at Independent Imaging, we have a nuclear medicine lab staffed with highly trained and skilled technicians, cardiac nurses, and radiologists ready to perform a diagnostic cardiac stress test in Palm Beach County for you. We will explain all the details and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your test.
Our facility has been accredited by the American College of Radiology for the achievement of high practice standards, and we have earned the reputation of providing fast and accurate results for our patients. We have four offices in Florida – Wellington, Bella Glade, Lake Worth, and Royal Palm Beach – ready to serve you. Give us a call at (561) 795-5558 today or request an appointment online.