Nuclear Stress Test (Pharmacologic)

A nuclear stress test also known as a myocardial perfusion scan is a test performed to measure blood flow from your heart vessels to determine if there is heart muscle at risk of ischemia (diminished blood flow). The test is performed by injecting a tiny amount of radioactive substance into your vein and uses a specialized imaging scanner (gamma camera) to image your heart. An electrocardiogram (EKG) will be performed at the same time to monitor your heart’s electrical rhythm both during exercise (stress) and without exercise (rest). The stress portion of the study can be done with a treadmill (exercise stress) or by the administration of medicine (known as a pharmacological stress). Your physician will determine which stress method is ideal for you.

Nuclear stress tests have proven to be safe and reliable. Sometimes patients feel warmth and mild shortness of breath for a few seconds and is otherwise painless. 

Pharmalogical: If you have physical limitations excluding you from exercising on a treadmill, a drug called Lexiscan, which mimics the effects of exercise on the heart, will be injected through your IV to reach your peak stress level. During this ten second infusion, you may experience shortness of breath, chest discomfort, headache, nausea, and/or a warm flushed feeling. These symptoms will subside shortly after stopping the medication. EKG and blood pressures will be monitored.

  • Do not eat anything 4 hours prior to the test. You may drink plenty of water
  • NO caffeine, including coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, cocoa, etc.
  • NO decaffeinated drinks
  • NO cigarettes
  • If you are diabetic, you should consult with their primary physician regarding fasting instructions.
  • Take your medications prior the test
  • There will be a break during the test, so bring a snack with you in case you get hungry. Feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding this exam.