Know Your Heart Condition Using a Nuclear Stress Test

Insufficient blood flow through your heart can be life-threatening, especially when plaque buildup clogs or damages your coronary arteries significantly. An echocardiogram machine might fail to show activities of your heart and the area that experience a poor flow. Nuclear stress testing in Port Saint Lucie can help check for issues in your coronary arteries and evaluate treatment effectiveness.

What should you expect during the test?

Before the test, your doctor inserts an IV line into your arm. Once the medical professional sets the line, he will inject a radiotracer and wait for a few minutes to allow your heart’s cells to absorb it. After the radiotracer absorption, your doctor will ask you to rest on the examination table, where he will take your first heart’s images at rest. The healthcare provider will then place electrodes (sticky patches) on various parts of your body, including your chest and arms. The electrodes connecting to the electrocardiogram machine record electrical signals triggering your heartbeat. Your cardiologist will then ask you to breathe into a tube to assess your breathing as you exercise. If you cannot exercise, the medical expert will administer medications via the line to increase the pressure in your blood flow and make you have side effects of exercising like gasping for breath.

If your doctor combines a nuclear test with the traditional stress test, he might ask you to use a stationary bike and start exercising slowly before increasing your speed gradually. You might continue working out until you reach a breaking point, with symptoms that cannot allow you to exercise further, like:

  • Too low or too high blood pressure
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Moderate or severe chest pains
  • Particular changes in your electrocardiogram machine
  • Dizziness
  • Severe breath shortness

Your doctor will then administer another radiotracer injection when your heart rate hits its peak after exercising. You may need a second set of images to show the parts of your heart that did not experience sufficient blood flow. Your doctor will know how your blood flows at rest and under stress by looking at the before and after exercise images. 

Why do you need a nuclear stress test?

Your cardiologist will request a stress test if he suspects a heart condition like chest pain. The medical professional might also use the test to guide your treatment, especially after confirming you have a heart problem. Additionally, stress tests might help:

  • Check for coronary artery disease (CAD). The coronary arteries’ major function is to supply oxygen, blood, and nutrients to your heart. You are likely to develop CAD when plaque buildup damages the blood vessels, causing symptoms like persistent chest pains. Your physician might use the test to confirm the heart issue and its severity in such an instance.
  • Design a treatment plan. The test will help your healthcare provider evaluate if the treatment is working effectively, especially with CAD.

A nuclear stress test is ideal for knowing your heart’s condition and whether the current symptoms indicate something serious. Contact your cardiologist to tell if your chest pains are CAD-related.

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