What to Expect Before, During, and After Nuclear Stress Testing

Jun 01, 2023
What to Expect Before, During, and After Nuclear Stress Testing
Getting a nuclear stress test is stressful, especially if you're unsure what to expect. Keep reading to learn how to prepare for your nuclear stress test and what to expect during and after the exam for optimal comfort and results.

nuclear stress test is a cutting-edge test that allows doctors to examine your heart function closely. It will enable them to diagnose problems within your heart and determine appropriate treatments.

The scariest aspect of a nuclear stress test is not knowing what to expect, especially if it's your first one.

The Heart Clinic of Hammond team helps ease your mind before your stress test for the best results. Dr. Ghiath Mikdadi and Dr. Farid Zayed are two expert cardiologists who offer exercise and nuclear stress testing to keep your heart healthy.

What is nuclear stress testing?

Nuclear stress testing allows our team to evaluate your heart health when exercise stress testing and other diagnostic tools haven't successfully diagnosed the problem.

During a nuclear stress test, we test your heart at rest and with physical activity. We inject a radioactive tracer into your bloodstream that we follow through your heart with advanced imaging studies.

The radioactive tracer allows us to find any abnormalities in blood flow within your heart that could be causing severe symptoms.

A nuclear stress test aims to find any blocked arteries or damage within your heart that could be a sign of a more significant issue.

Preparing for a nuclear stress test

Before coming in for your nuclear stress test, our team calls you with instructions about clothing and medications.

You should wear comfortable clothing, sneakers, or shoes to walk or jog in. You want to be as comfortable as possible during the exercise portion for accurate results.

We may have you stop taking certain medications before your stress test, which could change the results. Make sure to tell us all of the current medications you're taking.

You want to avoid drinking caffeine, smoking, or eating and drinking before your test. Our team tells you exactly how long to avoid these things before your appointment.

Avoid applying lotions or creams to your skin beforehand, as they make it hard for the electrodes to stick.

What to expect during the test

Before we start the stress test, we ask you about your medical history and how much you exercise. It allows us to set parameters for a safe nuclear stress test.

We then apply a blood pressure cuff and electrodes to your chest to watch your heart. We place an IV in your arm for the radioactive tracer, which we inject immediately.

After we inject the radioactive tracer into your IV, we take images after a few minutes, allowing your heart and blood vessels to soak in the tracer.

Once we have the initial images, you begin the nuclear stress test exercise portion. During this portion, you walk on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike to increase your heart rate.

If you can't exercise, we give you medicine through your IV that increases your heart rate like exercise does.

We inject more radioactive tracer material into your IV. At the same time your heart rate elevates, we take more images of your heart. These images allow us to see if there are any blockages while your heart rate is elevated.

After your nuclear stress test

After the nuclear stress test, you stay in the room briefly as we watch your heart relax after the exercise. You can lie down or sit, whichever is more comfortable for you.

When you're ready, you can change into other clothing you brought and go home. There's no need to avoid any activities unless we advise you to do so.

You can go about the rest of your day as usual, and as soon as the results come in, our team will call you to set up a follow-up appointment to discuss the health of your heart.

The radioactive tracer material exits your body through urination and your stool. Drink plenty of water for a few days to help it move out of your system.

To schedule your nuclear stress test, don't hesitate to call Heart Clinic of Hammond today at 985-974-9278 or request an appointment online for a consultation at our Hammond or Amite, Louisiana, office.