Nuclear Stress Test

Nuclear Stress Test is used to measure the electrical activity of the heart. Tests such as SPECT scan and PET scan are performed in this new emerging technology of Nuclear Stress Test. SPECT scan is an exercise test in which an isotope called thallium which is a nuclear material is injected. This is absorbed by the heart muscles so that the doctors can obtain the images of the heart and can detect any kind of abnormality of the heart. With the help of Nuclear Stress Test we can measure the amount of blockage in the artery, the doctors can make out patients who have suffered from heart attack in recent time, in some cases if a stent is fixed so it checks whether it’s working properly, the reason why the patient is having chest pain and amount of exercise the patient can perform all these things you can make out by performing Nuclear Stress Test. This test is not suitable under certain conditions such as lung infection, pregnancy, narrowing of aortic valve and heart failure. Now coming to the PET test, this is another imaging test by which the doctors can make out which all muscles of the heart are still functioning. This test gives very accurate results.


Let me give you some instructions which are necessary to be followed before, during and after performing the Nuclear Stress Test. It is necessary not to eat or drink anything 4-6 hours before the test as it is easier to see results when the patient is on an empty stomach. It is advised that the patient should wear comfortable clothing and shoes and also the doctor can even make the patient sign a consent form before performing the Nuclear Stress Test. Apart from the pain caused due to injecting the nuclear material the whole test is comfortable and painless. The whole test may take up to two and a half hours. After the test the patient can eat and drink and is asked to carry on normal activities. Now let us discuss some benefits as well as risks of Nuclear Stress Test. Firstly with the help of this test a physician can make out the structure and functioning of the heart, any damaged muscles, whether the heart is pumping blood efficiently or not, blockages and narrowing of the arteries. This test is extremely beneficial and very less complicated. After Nuclear Stress Test in very rare cases the patient may have sudden changes in blood pressure, rashes on the skin, difficulty in breathing etc this all is due to the effect of nuclear chemical injected in the body and these changes subside soon after the test.

Now in Nuclear Stress Test let us know how nuclear imaging technology works. Through the SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) the rays emitted from the nuclear substance e.g. thallium takes images of the heart muscles and the doctor check the functionality of the heart by exertion and rest. In Nuclear Stress Test the rays of the nuclear material are absorbed in a different way by the healthy tissues than by the damaged tissues. This Nuclear Stress Test helps to make out the patients the need of surgery or catheter procedures or the extent of the most recent heart attack. In Nuclear Stress Test the heart muscles which can bear the exertion can be made out. The results of the Nuclear Stress Test can be as follows- if the test result is normal both during exertion and rest the heart is healthy and nice, if there is abnormality in both the results during exertion and rest then it is understood that the heart has felt some attack in very recent time, if the test is normal during rest and abnormal during exertion then it is understood that there is blockage to some artery and if the resting stage develops sudden abnormality then it is an immediate heart attack.

In some Nuclear Stress Test if the patient is not able to exercise for the test then a substance called dobutamine is injected which makes the heart to behave as if it would when that person would be exercising even though the patient is actually at rest. There are some drugs which increase the heart rate as well as the blood flow.  

The article above explains the meaning of a Nuclear Stress Test. The way it is performed and the related complications are also mentioned. The benefits and the risks in these kinds of tests are mentioned. The preparations and events before, during and after the test are explained and the basic technique of imaging is also described with the varied results.

Top Comments

I am new here; But was wondering if thallium stress test causes cancer (blood cancer) later in life? I saw a Canadian study online ( I hear the radiation from a single thallium stress test is equivalent to 1000 chest X-rays. Don't you think that is very dangerous for our blood cells? Anybody with adverse effects? As you all know it takes five years for solid tumors to develop and at least two years for blood disorders like leukemia or lymphoma or Multiple Myeloma after radiation exposure.
by dderresa     06-Mar-2012

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