When your doctor senses something may be wrong, you can expect any number of diagnostic tests. One diagnostic test you may not be familiar with is the nuclear stress test. A nuclear stress test is a type of image-guided diagnostic test that determines the status of your heart and blood flow. Aided by a radioactive dye, a nuclear stress test can measure blood flow while at rest and after exertion. Ultimately, the test will reveal areas for concern regarding blood flow to your heart. A nuclear stress test may be recommended along with other diagnostic tests. With it, your doctor can determine your risk for cardiac diseases.
A More Conclusive Stress Test
A nuclear stress test is usually recommended to diagnose a heart condition or heart disease, especially if a routine stress test proved inconclusive. Nuclear stress tests not only indicate whether you have a heart condition, they can also reveal the severity of the condition. Your doctor will use the data gathered from the test to determine the right treatment plan for you – including how much exercise your heart can take. Moreover, a nuclear stress test can help guide your doctor over the course of treatment to gauge whether the treatment is effective and if not, why not.
Data Gleaned from a Nuclear Stress Test
Nuclear stress tests can be incredibly comprehensive, relaying any myriad information about your cardiovascular system to your doctor. For example, the nuclear stress test can determine how well your heart is functioning, to include how efficient it is as pumping blood and if any of the coronary arteries are narrowing or blocked. It can detect damage to the heart and its chambers; likewise it can determine how much exercise a patient can healthily sustain, whether the treatment plan currently advised is effective, and if the patient is suitable for cardiac rehabilitation.
Undergoing a Nuclear Stress Test
There are two parts of the nuclear stress test. The first involves taking “before” pictures. In this case, a technician will insert an intravenous (IV) line into your arm through which radioactive tracer flow. After your heart cells absorb the radiotracer, you will be asked to lie on a table so the technician can take images of your heart at rest.
Part two is the actual stress test: your technician will place electrodes on your chest, legs, and arms; these electrodes are connected by wires to an electrocardiogram machine to measure the electrical signals emitted by your heart. Your blood pressure will be monitored throughout the test and you may be asked to breathe into a tube to monitor your breathing. The stress test itself may be conducted on a treadmill or a stationary bike; you may also be injected with a drug that mimics the effects of exercise by increasing blood flow to your heart to provide an accurate diagnosis so you can begin treatment fast for your condition.
Diagnostics and Treatment in South Carolina
SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation believes that healing begins with a proper diagnosis. We are proud to offer comprehensive diagnostic services – which includes the nuclear cardiac stress test – in any of our three clinics in Irmo, South Carolina. If you have any questions about the nuclear test procedure or any of our other services, please call us today at (803) 749-1111, or request an appointment online.