Nuclear stress testing is a simple diagnostic tool that combines a small amount of radioactive dye with a sophisticated cardiovascular imaging machine to gather detailed information about how well blood flows to your heart, both when it’s resting and when it’s under exertion.
Also known as myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), this painless imaging technique is like a standard stress test, but with the addition of a radioactive tracer that effectively highlights your heart and your arteries to reveal a far more detailed picture of your cardiovascular system.
The team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County may recommend nuclear stress testing when a regular stress test hasn’t pinpointed the underlying cause of a nonspecific symptom like intermittent chest pain or shortness of breath.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition, they may use nuclear stress testing to help identify the best treatment approach.
Nuclear stress testing reveals how well your heart works when you’re resting and when you’re active. This highlighted cardiovascular imaging technique exposes several key details about your heart and your arteries, including:
Nuclear stress testing can also detect damaged heart tissue. It can help your doctor evaluate the extent of tissue damage caused by a known heart attack, and it can also reveal if you’ve had any minor heart attacks that went unnoticed.
While nuclear stress testing offers detailed and specific information about your cardiovascular health, most results fall into one of three categories:
Normal nuclear stress test results indicate that your heart receives enough oxygen-rich blood when it’s pumping normally (at rest) and when it’s pumping faster (under exertion).
While you might not have to worry about coronary artery disease, further testing may be warranted if you have persistent cardiovascular symptoms.
If your results show that your heart works well and receives sufficient blood flow when it’s at rest but not when it’s under exertion, you may be experiencing the effects of coronary artery disease or an arterial blockage.
Abnormal results both at rest and under exertion mean that the blood flow to your heart is insufficient or obstructed, regardless of your level of activity. These results usually indicate a substantial degree of coronary artery disease or heart tissue damage.
To learn more, call the nearest Coastal Cardiology of Orange County office, or book an appointment online today.