Heart scans are nuclear medicine studies. Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of injected (thru a vein) radioactive material to diagnose a variety of diseases.

Stress perfusion cardiac scans look at the blood supply to each area of the heart, and can determine if there are any areas of the heart that are not receiving enough blood flow, particularly after stress. They also allow us to measure how efficiently the heart is working as it pumps blood throughout the body.

This is a two part examination: one part looks at your heart at rest, and the second part looks at your heart at peak stress or after injection of a medicine that mimics stress.

Preparation for the examination:

  • If scheduled for the morning (up to 10 AM) no food after midnight.
  • If scheduled for midday or later, eat a light breakfast. No food for at least 4 hours before the test.
  • If there is any chance that you may be pregnant or breastfeeding, you must inform the doctor or technologist.
  • If you are diabetic, do not take your medicine the morning of the exam. Please bring your medication with you, as you will be instructed to take it at some time during the exam.
  • It is advisable to bring lunch with you as the entire exam (both parts) takes several hours.

 

How is the study performed?

Part 1 – REST A small amount of radioactive material will be injected into a vein in your arm. About 15-20 minutes after the injection, you will lie on a scanning table, and the camera will rotate around the region of your heart. These images usually take about 20 minutes to complete.

Part 2 – STRESS The cardiologist will exercise you on a treadmill. Alternatively, he may inject a medicine that mimics exercise. Your ECG and blood pressure will be closely monitored. At the appropriate time, radioactive material will be injected into a vein in your arm through a plastic cannula (IV line). You will wait 30-60 minutes, or longer, in a waiting area. Then, you will lie on a scanning table, and the camera will rotate around the region of your heart. These images usually take about 20 minutes to complete.

The images will be checked by the technologist for completeness and when that is confirmed the IV will be removed and your exam will be complete.

Who will interpret the examination?

Your examination will be interpreted by a Nuclear Cardiologist or Nuclear Medicine Physician, who is a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret nuclear cardiac examinations. He/she will analyze the images and send a signed report to your referring physician, who will discuss the results with you. Upon request, you can arrange a consultation with the Cardiologist or Nuclear Physician who interpreted your examination.