What Happens During A Nuclear Stress Test?
The nuclear stress test is usually done in two parts: the rest study and the stress study. Both can usually be done the same day.
In the rest study, we will give you a radioactive dose in your IV and wait about 30 to 45 minutes before doing the scan (or pictures) of your heart. The scan will show us how well blood is flowing to your heart muscles while your heart is at rest. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes for us to take the pictures of your heart. We will also take pictures of your heart after your stress study.
For the stress study, it’s important for us to watch how your heart is beating using something called an EKG, which will let the doctor watch your heart activity during the stress study. The purpose of the stress test is to see how well blood is flowing to your heart muscles while your heart is under stress. The stress test can be performed in one of two ways: while exercising on the treadmill or by giving you a drug through your IV that will stress your heart as if you exercised on the treadmill (this is called pharmacologic stress test).
A second scan will be done to see how well blood was flowing to your heart muscles while your heart was under stress. The doctor reading your scans will compare the stress scan with the rest scan of your heart.