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Cardiac Stress Test

This exam evaluates the muscular wall of the heart (myocardium), both while you are at rest, and then after stress has been applied to the heart. Stress is can be caused in two ways: either by exercise (running or walking on a treadmill) or by pharmacology (medicine given to increase your heart rate).

This test is done to evaluate for damage from a heart attack or ischemic (deadening of cells) disease.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Do not eat or drink anything, or take beta-blockers, after midnight the night before the exam.

If you are taking Theophylline, and are scheduled for a Persatine or Adenosine Stress Test, please notify us when your exam is scheduled.

What can I expect during the exam?

This exam is conducted by a specially registered technologist in molecular imaging and a nurse.

Stress by Treadmill:

  • You will be given an injection of radioactive tracer to evaluate the myocardium at rest.
  • About 15-30 minutes after the injection, you will lie on the exam table while you are scanned.
  • Once proper "resting images" have been obtained, you will be connected to an EKG machine and blood pressure monitor in preparation to walk on the treadmill.
  • You will walk until the desired heart rate (depending on your age) is reached. Then you will be injected with another tracer and continue to walk on the treadmill for one minute.
  • Thirty to sixty minutes later, images will again be taken to evaluate blood flow to the myocardium under stress.

Stress by Pharmacology:

  • You will be given an injection of a radioactive tracer to evaluate the blood flow to the myocardium at rest
  • About 15-30 minutes after the injection, you will lie on the imaging table and images will be taken.
  • Following the resting images, you will be connected to an EKG machine and a blood pressure monitor in preparation for the administration of the stress agent.
  • You will be given one of three common stress agents selected by your physician. Stress agents are Adenosine, Dipyridamole and Dobutamine.
  • You will be injected with another radioactive tracer during the stress agent infusion and then scanned again 30-60 minutes later to evaluate the blood flow of the heart while under the stress caused by the agent.

The test usually takes three hours total: 1.5 hours for resting and 1.5 for stressing portions.

What can I expect after the exam?

Unless your physician tells you otherwise, you may resume your normal activities after your molecular imaging scan. If any special instructions are necessary, you will be informed by a technologist, nurse or physician before you leave the molecular imaging department.

Your scan will be read by a Radiologist specially trained in molecular imaging. A written report will be sent to your physician, who will contact you with results.