When you have chest pain or unexplained shortness of breath, your cardiologist may recommend a nuclear stress test to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. At Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants, in Bradenton, Florida, Erick E. Calderon, MD, FACC, FSCAI, provides nuclear stress tests to diagnose health conditions, such as coronary artery disease, and to monitor the effectiveness of cardiac treatments.
A nuclear stress test measures your blood flow while you’re at rest and during exertion. It uses a radioactive dye and an imaging machine to show how your blood flows in and out of your heart. Dr. Calderon often uses a nuclear stress test to see if your heart is receiving adequate blood supply to the coronary arteries.
If you’ve had chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of heart disease, Dr. Calderon may recommend a nuclear stress test to check your heart. If you’ve recently had treatments for heart disease, started medication, or are recovering from a heart attack, he may use a nuclear stress test to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment and monitor your recovery.
Dr. Calderon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your nuclear stress test. However, in general, you’ll need to avoid caffeine and dairy products, including decaffeinated versions of tea and coffee, for at least 24 hours before your test. You’ll also need to fast for 6-12 hours before your test.
You also shouldn’t take any beta blockers, nitrates, or calcium channel blockers for 48 hours prior to your test, unless Dr. Calderon gives you instructions to keep taking your medicine.
On the day of your nuclear stress test, wear comfortable clothing and shoes, because part of the test will measure your heart function while you walk on a treadmill.
Your nuclear stress test has three stages. The first stage is preparation. Your provider will inject cardiolite, a radioactive dye, into your veins. You’ll wait 20-40 minutes for the dye to reach your heart.
The second stage measures your heart function while you’re at rest. You’ll recline on an exam table, and a technician will take diagnostic images of the dye moving through your heart.
The third stage measures your heart function while it’s under stress. Your provider will place electrodes on your chest, arms, and legs, which will measure the electrical signals in your heart. You’ll walk on a treadmill at an increasing pace until your heart reaches a target rate or until you develop symptoms that don’t allow you to continue.
After your test, Dr. Calderon will monitor your heart as it returns to its normal rate. You can return to your normal activities right away, and you should drink plenty of water to flush the dye from your system.
If you need a nuclear stress test, call Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants or make an appointment online.