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Nuclear Stress Test


NUCLEAR STRESS TEST DEFINITION

The nuclear stress test is an imaging test that measures a person’s blood flow into the heart muscle, at rest and during an activity. It is also known as Thallium stress test.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST PURPOSE

A nuclear stress test is basically used to measure how much blood-rich oxygen your heart gets, especially when it is under stress or is working quite hard. It is mostly done to help determine what causes your symptoms of angina or chest pain. It is also usually done to patients who are at high risk of heart attack, before they start a fitness program. A nuclear stress test is also ordered to help doctors determine how well a medication treatment is working and how well the heart is coping after a heart attack.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST RISKS

This test is done under close supervision of a physician. If ever there are risks to taking the test such as chest pain or muscle cramps, the patient will be given treated immediately. However, since serious preparations are done before the test, doctors are almost quite sure that it will not pose any serious risks.
NUCLEAR STRESS TEST
Image: NUCLEAR STRESS TEST

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST PREPARATION REQUIRED

The doctor usually gives specific instructions regarding caffeine and drugs intake. Follow the doctor’s orders regarding what and what not to do to be completely safe.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST PROCEDURE

A nuclear stress test is done in a physician’s clinic or at a medical center. First, you will have an IV where radiopharmaceuticals like thallium or sestamibi will be injected. After that, you will be scanned so your doctors will have images of how the drug has traveled into your heart. After that, you will be instructed to either walk on a treadmill or use a pedal machine. The whole time, your heart rhythm and blood pressure will be kept an eye on. After working up your heart, your doctor will again inject a radiopharmaceutical to see images of your heart under stress. The images will help your doctor make a definitive diagnosis.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST COMPLICATIONS

There are no known complications to a nuclear stress test. However, minor discomfort may be felt when the radiopharmaceutical is injected onto your veins.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST SIDE EFFECTS

Since this test involves working up your heart, it may cause some form of chest discomfort or shortness of breath. Although they can be severe, those cases are very rare.

NUCLEAR STRESS TEST RESULTS

The results of a nuclear stress test will give your doctor a better idea on how your heart is coping when it is put under stress. Depending on the images that will be captured, you will be given the appropriate treatment.


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