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Nuclear Stress Test

Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center

Cardiovascular Disease Specialists & Interventional Cardiologists located in North Houston, Tomball, TX

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, affecting more than 18 million adults. The in-office nuclear stress test is a diagnostic tool the cardiovascular disease specialists Waqar Khan, MD, MPH, FACC, FSCAI, Alexander Trujillo, MD, and Steven Napierkowski, MD, at Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center in Tomball, Texas, use to diagnose coronary heart disease. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain during activity, and have concerns about heart health, contact the office by phone or online today to schedule a consultation.

Nuclear Stress Test Q & A

What is a nuclear stress test?

A nuclear stress test is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a radioactive tracer to visualize the movement of blood through your heart. During the test, your provider at Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center measures the movement of blood during periods of rest and periods of physical exertion.

A nuclear stress test finds areas of poor blood flow or heart damage and may assess your risk of having a heart attack or other cardiac event. 

When is a nuclear stress test needed?

Your provider at Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center may recommend a nuclear stress test if the results of your routine stress test didn’t determine the cause of your chest pain or shortness of breath. 

The test may help your provider definitively diagnose coronary heart disease, which is a type of heart disease characterized by the formation of plaque on the coronary arteries that decreases blood supply to the heart. Stress testing is also done on people who have signs of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

The nuclear stress test may also be needed to determine the best treatment to maintain or improve heart health if you already have a heart disease diagnosis. 

What happens during a nuclear stress test?

During a nuclear stress test, your provider assesses heart health and function while you’re at rest and during physical activity and conducts the test in stages. 

First, your doctor injects a small amount of the radioactive tracer through an intravenous (IV) line placed in one of your veins. You then relax for 15 to 45 minutes, and your provider uses a special camera to scan your heart and blood flow.

After the scan, you move to the physical activity portion of your scan. During this stage, you walk on a treadmill, and your doctor slowly increases the intensity of your workout until your heart rate reaches a set target. 

If you’re unable to exercise, your provider may provide a medication that increases heart rate.

When your heart is working as hard as it can, your provider injects a small amount of the radioactive tracer and takes another scan about 15 to 45 minutes later. 

Your cardiovascular disease specialist at Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center compares the two scans to see how blood flows through your heart when at rest and under stress. 

Your provider reviews the results of your nuclear stress test with you and schedules a follow-up appointment to develop a treatment plan. 

For expert cardiac care from experienced cardiovascular disease specialists, contact Lone Star Heart and Vascular Center by phone or online today.