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Phoenix Cardiovascular Institute Nuclear Stress Test

Nuclear Stress Test

What is a Nuclear Stress Test?

A nuclear stress test is an imaging test that shows how blood goes to the heart at rest and during exercise. It uses a small amount of radioactive material given by IV, after which images of the heart are taken via a positron emission technology scanner (PET) or a single photon emission computed tomography scanner (SPECT) to visualize how the tracer moves through the heart arteries. This helps find areas of poor blood flow or damage in the heart.

What happens during a nuclear stress test?

During a nuclear stress test, you walk on a treadmill, or ride an exercise bike. The intensity of the workout increases until your heart hits a set target rate, or you start to feel chest pain. If you are not able to tolerate the exercise, the physician may use medication to increase your heart rate in order to achieve the same goal as physical exercise.

Diagnostic Testing