Why it's done

You may need a nuclear stress test if a routine stress test didn't pinpoint the cause of symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. A nuclear stress test may also be used to guide your treatment if you've been diagnosed with a heart condition. Your doctor may recommend a nuclear stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease. Your coronary arteries are the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients. Coronary artery disease develops when these arteries become damaged or diseased — usually due to a buildup of deposits containing cholesterol and other substances (plaques).

    If you have symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, a nuclear stress test can help determine if you have coronary artery disease and how severe the condition is.

  • Guide treatment of heart disorders. If you've been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a nuclear stress test can help your doctor find out how well treatment is working. It may also be used to help establish the right treatment plan for you by determining how much exercise your heart can handle.
Nov. 16, 2017
References
  1. Cardiac nuclear medicine. American College of Radiology. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=cardinuclear. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  2. What is stress testing? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stress/. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  3. Papaioannou GI, et al. Exercise radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging in the diagnosis and prognosis of coronary heart disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  4. Yanowitz FG, et al. Exercise ECG testing: Performing the test and determining the ECG results. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  5. Stress nuclear study. American College of Cardiology. https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/01/Video-Stress-Nuclear-Study. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
  6. Arruda-Olson AM, et al. Stress testing to determine prognosis of coronary heart disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
  7. Coronary heart disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cad. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
  8. Bonow RO, et al., eds. Nuclear cardiology. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
  9. ACC/AHA/ASNC guidelines for the clinical use of cardiac radionuclide imaging—executive summary. Circulation. 2003;108:1404.
  10. Mankad R (expert opinion). Rochester, Minn. Sept. 14, 2017.