Nuclear Medicine Stress TestNuclear Test

Thallium stress test is a nuclear imaging method that shows how well blood flows into the heart muscle, both at rest and during activity.

This test is done at a medical center or health care provider's office. It is done in stages:

You will have an IV (intravenous line) started.

  • A radioactive substance, such as thallium or sestamibi, will be injected into one of your veins.
  • You will lie down and wait for between 15 and 45 minutes.
  • A special camera will scan your heart and create pictures to show how the substance has traveled through your blood and into your heart.

Most people will then walk on a treadmill (or pedal on an exercise machine).

  • After the treadmill starts moving slowly, you will be asked to walk (or pedal) faster and on an incline.
  • If you are not able to exercise, you may given a medicine called a vasodilator. This drug widens (dilates) your heart arteries.
  • In other cases, you may get a medicine (dobutamine) that will make your heart beat faster and harder, similar to when you exercise.

Your blood pressure and heart rhythm (ECG) will be watched throughout the test.

When your heart is working as hard as it can, a radioactive substance is again injected into one of your veins.

  • You will wait for 15 to 45 minutes.
  • Again, the special camera will scan your heart and create pictures.
  • You may be allowed to get up from the table or chair and have a snack or drink.

Dr. Randall will compare the first and second set of pictures using a computer. This can help detect if you have heart disease or if your heart disease is becoming worse.

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