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How is a Nuclear Stress Test Done?

You’ve probably heard of a standard stress test. But what if your doctor orders a nuclear stress test? The word nuclear tends to make people nervous, but there’s nothing to worry about. Buckeye Heart and Vascular Institute performs these procedures often, so you can know you’re in good hands. Here’s what to expect.

woman smiling after nuclear stress test in dayton oh

The Standard Stress Test

The standard stress test is also known as a treadmill stress test or exercise stress test. Your heart function is monitored while you walk or run on a treadmill to see how much your heart can take. Your physician wants to see how your heart deals with exercise and at what point it may be damaged or produce abnormal activity.

The Nuclear Stress Test

The nuclear stress test, also known as myocardial perfusion imaging, is similar to the standard one, but with an added component. A radioactive tracer is injected before doing a treadmill test. This allows your doctor to monitor the blood flow to your heart.

Images are taken both during rest and during exercise to see the difference and changes between the two. As the radioactive tracer is only active for so long, more injections may be needed during the exercise portion. In addition, a medication is often administered that increases the blood flow to the heart. This makes it easier to monitor.

A Need for Additional Prep

Due to the injection portion, a nuclear stress test involves a bit more preparation than a standard one. The day before the test, you won’t be able to have caffeine and must drink a certain amount of liquids. You’ll also have to stop eating at a certain time, therefore it’s recommended that you bring a snack along to the test.

This test can take 4-6 hours, so it’s important that you’re prepared for this. It’s important to wear comfortable clothing so that you’re set during the “stress” portion of the test. Snacks and your medications can be brought along with you to take when you’re allowed. 

During the test, it’s important to tell your physician if you experience any symptoms. Chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms are crucial and need to be reported to your doctor.

After the test, there are no specific rules to follow. You’re allowed to eat and have caffeine again and can go home and rest. Since this test is hours-long, you’re going to want to make sure you’re well-hydrated and replenishing after.

The Dayton, OH Difference

Here at Buckeye Heart and Vascular Institute, we strive to give you the best care possible. Our nuclear stress test services are designed to make you feel comfortable throughout the duration of the process. For more information on this and other cardiovascular services, please request an appointment online today!