Cardiac & VascularCardiac and VascularTreatments and Procedures

Nuclear Exercise Stress Test

Procedure overview

What is an nuclear exercise stress test?

The nuclear exercise stress test is a procedure done over a two-day period. On the first day, the nuclear exercise stress test is done to raise the heart rate by walking on a treadmill. Special images are taken of the heart when it is exercising or being stressed followed by additional images of the heart taken the following day when the heart is at rest.

Before day one of procedure

  • Do not eat or drink for four hours before the test and avoid caffeine for 24 hours beforehand
  • Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers
  • Bring a list of current medications and ask your doctor which of your medications are okay to take before the test

During day one of the procedure

The test usually takes three hours. During the test an intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your arm and small adhesive pads are placed on the upper body to monitor heart rate and EKG as you walk on the treadmill. The treadmill will go through a series of stages, gradually increasing in speed and incline. If needed, the treadmill can be slowed down or stopped at any time during the test. Blood pressure, heart rate and EKG are frequently monitored before, during, and after the test. As you walk on the treadmill the nuclear tracer will be injected through your IV line. After the treadmill portion of the test is complete you will have a 45 minute break during which you may eat and drink and then return for the imaging, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

Before day two of procedure

  • You can resume eating, drinking and taking your medicine unless your doctor states otherwise before the resting portion of the test
  • Wear comfortable clothing

During day two of the procedure

The second day of testing takes approximately 90 minutes and there is no treadmill involved for the resting portion of the test. During this day of testing, an IV will be placed in your arm and the nuclear tracer will again be injected. After a 45 minute break a set of images will be taken. These images will be compared to the images taken on day one of testing when your heart was being stressed while using the treadmill.

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