Nuclear stress testing helps diagnose heart problems when other methods are unsuccessful. At Heart Clinic of Hammond in Hammond and Amite, Louisiana, Ghiath Mikdadi, MD, and Farid Zayed, MD, perform advanced procedures, like nuclear stress testing, to diagnose symptoms of cardiac disease, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. To find out more, call the nearest office today or book an appointment online.
Nuclear stress testing is a method of analyzing the heart’s function. It involves taking two measurements of your heart’s activity, one while you’re resting and another during exercise. The test also requires an injection of radioactive dye (tracer) into your blood that highlights any abnormal functioning.
Nuclear stress testing helps your Heart Clinic of Hammond doctor see any damage in your heart’s tissues and locate the source of reduced blood flow.
You might need to undergo nuclear stress testing if other diagnostic procedures like an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG), echocardiogram (heart ultrasound), or standard exercise stress testing can’t identify the cause of symptoms like chest pain, syncope (fainting), shortness of breath, or other indicators of heart disease.
The nuclear stress testing procedure begins with an injection of a radioactive tracer. The tracer goes into your bloodstream through this intravenous (IV) line. It’s likely to feel cold as it enters your body.
After 40 minutes, there should be enough tracer in your heart to have your first imaging scan. The stress testing part of the procedure requires exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to raise your heart rate.
You start slowly, gradually increasing the effort until your heart reaches the target rate. You might have to stop earlier if you experience chest pain or breathlessness. If you’re too weak or sick to exercise, your provider can give you medication that simulates the effects of exercise.
When your heart rate reaches the target, you have another tracer injection and a second round of imaging. Your Heart Clinic of Hammond doctor compares the images of your heart before and after exercise to identify any abnormalities.
After your nuclear stress test, your doctor will review the results with you. If your blood flows normally at rest but not when you exercise, it could indicate coronary artery disease (CAD). If your blood flow is poor at rest as well, it indicates advanced CAD.
You might need to undergo a cardiac catheterization procedure called a coronary angiography so your doctor can view the arteries in more detail. Medication can help with milder CAD, but severe disease might require a coronary intervention like angioplasty and stenting or a heart bypass.
To find out more about nuclear stress testing and how it helps diagnose your heart problems, call Heart Clinic of Hammond today or book an appointment online.