Nuclear Medicine Cardiac Stress Test
A nuclear medicine stress test is an exam that shows how well your heart
works during physical activity. The exam can be used to measure the blood
flow to the heart as well as to see any areas where the heart has been
damaged (such as a heart attack). The test measures blood flow to the
heart muscle both at rest and stress. Images are taken when you are at
rest and then at stress.
The exam is also known as a Myocardial Perfusion Stress or Lexiscan Stress Test.
What to Bring
- Your physician order (your physician may have already sent this to us)
- Personal ID
- Insurance Cards
- Medication List
How to Prepare
- You should fast 4 hours prior to the test. Water is permissible.
- You must not have had caffeine or decaffeinated products for 12 hours.
- No chocolate for 12 hours.
- No medications containing caffeine or Excedrin.
- You will receive a call from the Cardiology nurse with instructions as
to which medications to hold until after the stress test. You may be instructed
to hold your blood pressure medications if you are exercising on the treadmill.
- If you have diabetes, please monitor your glucose level closely to keep
within normal limits.
- You should dress comfortably.
- Wear rubber-soled shoes or sneakers if you are walking on the treadmill.
- Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant.
- If you wear an on-body device (insulin pump, insulin regulators, Neulasta,
other chemo/insulin devices, etc.), you must inform your technologist.
What to Expect
- You can expect to be at the hospital 3-4 hours total time.
- The technologist will explain the test and answer any questions you may have.
- To minimize the number of sticks you receive, the nuclear medicine technologist
will start an IV.
For the “Resting” portion of the test:
- You will be given a small injection of the imaging agent which contains
a small amount of radioactive material. There should be no side effects.
- You will be placed in the lobby for approximately 45 minutes to allow the
imaging agent to circulate appropriately.
- After, you will be placed on a cushioned table for approximately 12 minutes
for your “rest” images.
- The nuclear medicine technologist will take you to Cardiology for the next
part of your test.
For the “Stress” portion of the test:
- While in Cardiology, a nurse will explain the stress portion to you and
answer any questions you have.
- As you exercise on the treadmill, the nuclear medicine technologist will
give you a second injection of the radioactive imaging agent. You should
tell the Cardiology nurse if you feel any of the following symptoms: chest,
arm or jaw discomfort, severe shortness of breath, extreme tiredness,
dizziness, lightheadedness, leg cramps or unusual soreness.
- If you are unable to walk on a treadmill and undergoing a Lexiscan stress
test, the Cardiology nurse will give you a medication through your IV
that simulates exercise, then the nuclear medicine technologist will administer
the second injection of the radioactive imaging agent. You may experience
tiredness, shortness of breath and sweating. These are normal responses.
You should tell the Cardiology nurse if you feel any of the following
symptoms: chest, arm or jaw discomfort, severe shortness of breath, extreme
tiredness, dizziness, lightheadedness, leg cramps or unusual soreness.
- The Cardiology nurse will observe you for approximately 10 minutes after
the stress portion, then direct you back to the Radiology lobby. There
you will wait 30-60 minutes for the imaging agent to circulate before
taking the final image.
- The nuclear medicine technologist will bring you into the scan room, remove
your IV, and place you on the imaging table. The scan should only take
After the Exam
- You may eat or drink.
- You may resume all medications as directed by your physician or nurse.
- Your study will be reviewed by a Cardiologist or Radiologist and the results
sent to your physician. Your physician will discuss these results with you.