Nuclear Stress Test

If you are unable to make your scheduled appointment, please call the office by 3:00 pm the day prior to your test. Missing a scheduled Nuclear Stress Test may result in a $150 charge.

If you are severely claustrophobic, cannot lie flat, or cannot raise your left arm over your head, please call the office.

Some patients will have their portions of the nuclear stress test performed on two separate days. This is done to improve the quality of the pictures of the patient's heart. Women over 250 lbs and men over 275 lbs will be scheduled in this way. The second part of the testing procedure will be scheduled for the patient by the nuclear staff.

Do not eat or drink anything, including water, for 4 hours prior to your test. Do not use any caffeine, de-caf, or nicotine for 12 hours prior to the test (including some medications).

Medications should be taken as directed by your physician. Diabetic patients with early morning appointments may take 1/2 of your insulin dose with juice and dry toast. If you use an inhaler, please bring it with you to your test.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and two-piece clothing (without metal snaps). Do not wear jewelry.

Bring all medications, or a list of medications, for review.

Friends/family are welcome to accompany you to the office but are not allowed in the testing area due to our privacy policy.

In the testing room, a nurse or technician will start an intravenous line, or IV, in your arm and will administer a small amount of radioactive tracer. A short time later, you will be asked to lie still on a table underneath a camera that rotates around the chest and senses the radiation being emitted by the tracer. The camera will record images for 13-15 minutes.

The nurse or technologist will then place on you approximately 10 small, sticky ECG electrodes with wires attached to them. Recordings of the heart's resting activity are made before the stress test begins. You begin the stress test by either walking on a treadmill or by receiving medication. If you are scheduled to walk on a treadmill, the speed and incline of the treadmill typically increase every 3 minutes to raise your exertion level and increase the work the heart must do. Exercise typically lasts from 5 to 15 minutes. For medication stress tests, you may be asked to do a slow and easy walk on the treadmill during their test. A second radioactive tracer is injected through the IV during the stress test. You are then asked to lie still on a table underneath a camera for another image of the heart.

The entire nuclear stress test may take between 2 and 4 hours and you can resume normal activities immediately following the test.

Test results will be communicated to you by your ordering physician.

General Information(804) 288-4827