Getting ready for your Nuclear Stress Test

Like an Exercise stress test, a Nuclear Stress test measures your ability to exercise and shows the blood flow to your heart. The test measures blood flow while you are at rest and are exerting yourself. A radioactive dye and an imaging machine create pictures showing areas with poor blood flow or damage in your heart.. Learn everything there is to know about this test.

Before The Test:

  • You should plan about one hour for this test, which includes preparation for the test, the exercise portion, and the recovery period.

  • Wear or bring comfortable attire and walking/running shoes.

  • Make your last meal light and without tea, coffee or alcohol.

  • Stop taking any heart medication or blood pressure medication 24 hours before the test.

  • Before the test, you will be given an explanation of the test and you will be asked to sign a consent form. Feel free to ask any questions about the test.

  • Don't apply oil, perfume or lotion to your skin on the day of your nuclear stress test.

During The Test:

  • Before you start the test, a technician inserts an intravenous (IV) line into your arm and injects a radioactive dye (it may feel cold for a few seconds)

  • After about 20 to 40 minutes, time for your heart cells to absorb the radiotracer. You will be called back in the room to have your first images taken while your heart is at rest.

  • Several areas on your chest and shoulders will be cleansed with alcohol and an abrasive pad will be used to prepare the skin for the electrodes (small sticky patch). Men may need to have areas of their chest shaved, to ensure that the electrodes stay in place.

  • The technician will inject the drug into your IV line that mimics exercise by increasing blood flow to your heart. Possible side effects may be similar to those caused by exercise, such as flushing or shortness of breath. You might get a headache.

  • After you stop exercising, you might be asked to stand still for several seconds and then lie down for a period of time with the monitors in place. Your doctor can watch for any abnormalities as your heart rate and breathing return to normal.

After the test

  • When the test is complete, you may return to normal activities unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

  • The radioactive material will naturally leave your body in your urine or stool. Drink plenty of water to help flush the dye out of your system.

  • Your doctor or you doctors nurse, will contact you to give you the test results.

Your results could show:

  • Normal blood flow during exercise and rest. You may not need further tests.

  • Normal blood flow during rest, but not during exercise. Part of your heart isn't receiving enough blood when you're exerting yourself. This might mean that you have one or more blocked arteries (coronary artery disease).

  • Low blood flow during rest and exercise. Part of your heart isn't getting enough blood at all times, which could be due to severe coronary artery disease or a previous heart attack.

  • Lack of radioactive dye in parts of your heart. Areas of your heart that don't show the radioactive dye have tissue damage from a heart attack.

  • A complete interpretation will be sent to your referring physician.

If you have any questions or concerns before or after your test please feel free to call our staff at 951.352.3937 or email at

The information contained in this web site is presented for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute in any way a consultation with a physician or competent healthcare professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment.

Related Post: Instructions before a Nuclear Stress Test

Cardiology Specialists Medical Group is a group of 10 Cardiologists in the Inland Empire, California. CSMG offers general cardiology, Electrophysiology, EP studies, and Interventional cardiology with the newest non-invasive procedures in the area.

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