Nuclear Stress Test

Below is a list of some frequently asked questions, but feel free to contact us if you need additional information. We are always pleased to assist you.

Why did my doctor order a Nuclear Stress Test?

The Nuclear Stress Test is designed to assess the health of your heart, in an effort to see if any blood flow to the heart is blocked. Therefore, your doctor ordered this test:

  • If you are experiencing chest pain
  • If you have a family history of heart attack
  • If you need an operation

How should I prepare for the Nuclear Stress Test?

You may have NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK 6 HOURS BEFORE THE TEST. NO CAFFEINE 24 hours before the test day. This includes caffeine-free soda and decaffeinated coffee. You may not drink any soda because, even caffeine-free or decaffeinated drinks, still contain enough caffeine to affect the test.

How is a Nuclear Stress Test performed?

The Nuclear Stress Test is comprised of 3 parts.

Part I—An IV line is started and a small amount of a radioactive isotope is injected. Images are obtained with a gamma camera.

Part II—Is the stress portion. You will be either walking on the treadmill or be given medication that mimics exercise and a second injection is given through the IV line at this time.

Part III—A second injection will occur and more images will be taken with a gamma camera.

How long will the Nuclear Stress Test take?

The test takes approximately 3 hours.

What are the risks of Thallium Stress Test?

There are no significant risks of the test. The isotopes injection exposure is similar to that of a chest x-ray. The doctor monitors your EKG and a nurse monitors blood pressure during the stress portion. If, at any point, the doctor feels that you are at risk of a problem, he or she will stop the test. The medications effects are reversible.

What are the alternatives to the Nuclear Stress Test?

The alternatives to the Nuclear Stress Test are a regular EKG stress test or a Stress Echo. These tests are usually not the preferred test, as they only give similar information. A cardiac catheterization is a very good test but more invasive in comparison with the Nuclear Stress Test, and is done ONLY if a doctor feels it is necessary.

What can I expect after the procedure?

There usually are no after-effects of the test. In some cases patients that take the medication may experience a headache at which point they may take Tylenol.

Will other Tests be ordered?

In a small percentage of cases, the patient is recommended for cardiac catheterization in order to confirm and/or correct any heart problems.