A nuclear stress test is a form of cardiac stress testing using imaging to assess the amount of blood flow through vessels or chambers of the heart. The Nuclear Stress Test collects information about blood flow to your heart while you exercise on a treadmill, do arm lifts, or walk. If there’s not enough blood flowing to your heart, the test may also be called a myocardial perfusion imaging or MUGA scan.
The Nuclear Stress Test detects coronary artery disease when someone has signs or symptoms, such as chest pain. It’s often done before other tests, like an angiogram, are done to see if further tests are necessary. A specialist in nuclear stress testing in Port Saint Lucie can also recommend the Nuclear Stress Test alongside other procedures, like an angiogram, to help determine your treatment options.
When Do You Need it?
You may need a Nuclear Stress Test to see how well blood flows through your heart muscle when you’re exercising. This is because the test helps identify serious heart problems, like blockages in your coronary arteries that can cause angina or a heart attack.
It may also come in handy if you:
- Have a history of heart problems like heart attack, heart disease, or angina
- Have chest pain with less-than-typical angina symptoms, like upper back or shoulder pain or nausea
- Have high blood pressure with kidney problems
- Have diabetes, and the doctor suspects coronary artery disease
What Can a Nuclear Stress Test Detect?
The Nuclear Stress Test is used to detect coronary artery disease, like narrowing of one or more of your coronary arteries, also known as obstructive coronary heart disease. It can also detect a damaged section of one of the major blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle and an area called a myocardial infarction or MI.
What Happens After the Test?
After the test, you’ll be able to return to your normal activities immediately. You might need someone to drive you home if the test involves sedation. For at least 24 hours after the test, avoid heavy exercise and strenuous activity that could put a strain on your heart.
If you were given medication during the procedure, such as a medication to relax your heart before the test, you might not be able to drive until it wears off. It’s also important to tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking, including herbal supplements.
Like all procedures, a Nuclear Stress Test may cause side effects or problems. Problems may include:
- Nausea and vomiting from medications given to relax your heart during the test
- Low blood pressure (which can make you feel dizzy or light-headed) during the test
- A temporary condition of heart failure after the procedure, if your coronary arteries are severely blocked
Rarely, people have more severe problems with the Nuclear Stress Test.
In summary, a nuclear stress test is a form of cardiac stress testing using imaging to assess the amount of blood flow through vessels or chambers of the heart. You may need it if you have a history of heart problems, chest pains, or have previously had major heart surgery. You can resume regular activity immediately after the test unless directed otherwise.