Cardiac Stress Testing

The test is used to determine if your heart muscle is getting the blood supply it needs.  It also helps find out how well your heart is working.

How is the test done?

When you arrive at the Diagnostic Center, an IV will be started in your hand or arm.  You will receive an injection of a radioactive material.  There are no side effects to the material.  After the injection you will lie on a narrow, firm table with your arms resting above your head.  A camera will move around your chest to detect the radiation given off by the injection you received.  This portion of the test lasts approximately 15 minutes.  The result is an image of your heart’s blood supply while you are at rest.

After the resting scan, a stress test will be performed.  Electrodes will be attached to your chest and an EKG will be done before, during and after the test.  Your blood pressure will also be monitored.  If you are physically able, you will walk on a treadmill for the stress test.  It will start slowly for a warm-up, then speed up and incline every three minutes until the target heart rate is reached.  During this time, another dose of the radioactive material will be injected into your IV.  Please let the doctor or nurse know if you experience any chest pain, shortness of breath or any other problem.  If you are unable to exercise on the treadmill, your doctor will order your test to be done with medication that will affect your heart in a way similar to exercise.  You may feel hot, flushed, nauseated or experience a headache.  If you have any of these symptoms, they will go away very quickly after the medication is stopped.

After the stress test is completed, you will be monitored for a short time.  If you exercised, you will wait 15 to 30 minutes before going back to have what we call a stress scan.  This is done in the same way as the rest scan.  You will be connected to a heart monitor during this time.  If you received medication for the stress test, you will wait 30 to 45 minutes for the repeat scan.  During these waiting times we can provide a snack for you if needed.

How do I prepare for the test?

  • No food or drink containing caffeine for 24 hours prior to the test.  This includes decaffeinated drinks and chocolate.
  • No Beta Blocker medication for 48 hours prior to the test.  Examples of Beta Blockers are:  Metoprolol, Toprol, Tenormin, Lopressor, Coreg, Atenolol, Inderal, Propanolol, Ziac, Corgard, Carvedilol and Bystolic.  There are many others.  If you are not sure, check with your doctor.
  • Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing without snaps.  Do not wear overalls or coveralls. (You will be asked to remove all their metal which includes jewelry, metal belt clip, watches so they may want to dress accordingly to get the procedure completed more quickly.)
  • Wear shoes suitable and safe for walking.
  • Do not apply lotions or powder to the chest.
  • Do not eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours prior to the test.
  • Do not take Viagra, Levitra, Cialis or similar drugs for 36 hours prior to the test.
  • Bring a list of all of your medications.
  • Plan on being at the Diagnostic Center between 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours depending on how your stress test is to be performed.

How do I get the test results?

You will be informed about the EKG findings during the stress test by the physician who conducts the test.  The scan images will be interpreted by a radiologist and forwarded to your physician to give to you.

* The radioactive material used for the test is ordered especially for you at the time your test is scheduled.  It cannot be saved or sent back to the pharmacy.  Please make every effort to keep your appointment or cancel at least 24 hours prior.  You may be charged for the material if you do not.