About Nuclear Stress Testing

The information from an exercise treadmill test can be enhanced by injection of a nuclear isotope (a short-acting radioactive chemical) that tracks where there is and isn’t good blood flow going to the heart.  Once the isotope is injected, the person has pictures taken from a special camera that can image the nuclear isotope and determine which parts of the heart are getting a good blood supply.  We can also use various chemicals (persantine, adenosine, or Lexiscan) to imitate the effects of exercise (a “chemical stress test”) in those patients who are unable to exercise on a treadmill.  Like stress echocardiography, a nuclear stress test is generally more accurate than a stand-alone exercise treadmill test and can evaluate whether the abnormalities on that test represent a real heart problem or are just a “false positive” test result.

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Gregory Koshkarian, MD, FACC