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Nuclear Stress Testing

A nuclear stress test is an imaging method that uses radioactive material to show how well blood flows into the heart muscle while at rest and during activity.

How does it work?

This test is done in stages.


  • A radioactive substance will be injected into a vein.
  • A special camera will scan the heart and create pictures to show how the substance has traveled through the bloodstream and into the heart.


  • The patient will begin walking on a treadmill, slowly at first and then faster and on an incline.
  • If the patient is not able to exercise, he or she may be given a medicine called a vasodilator to dilate the arteries.
  • Some patients may get medicine to make the heart beat faster and harder to simulate exercise.

Blood pressure and heart rhythm will be watched throughout the test. When the heart is working as hard as it can, a radioactive substance is again injected and the special camera will once again scan the heart.

A physician will compare the first and second set of pictures using a computer. This can help detect heart disease.

Am I a good candidate for treatment?

A Deborah Specialty Physician may order this test if a patient is:

  • At high risk for heart disease or complications
  • Planning to start an exercise program or have surgery
  • Experiencing new chest pain or worsening angina
  • Recovering from a heart attack