Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both women and men in the United States, causing about 20% of all deaths nationwide, according to the CDC. Every 33 seconds, someone in this country dies as a result of cardiovascular disease.
Diagnosing heart problems early and actively managing existing problems are essential for reducing the risk of death and other complications, like future heart attacks. Nuclear stress testing plays an important role in that process.
A top cardiovascular disease specialist in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Anthony B. Lewis MD, FACC, uses the most advanced technology for nuclear stress testing in patients at TLC Medical Group Inc, gathering critical data that can help him provide optimal care. In this post, Dr. Lewis and his team offer a brief overview of nuclear stress testing to help you understand what to expect during your appointment.
How nuclear stress testing works
The name of the test might sound daunting, but nuclear stress testing is pretty straightforward and completely noninvasive. This test helps your doctor visualize and evaluate how well your heart responds to physical activity and how well blood is flowing in and around your heart.
Nuclear stress testing uses a special dye (called a tracer) that’s injected into your veins. The dye contains tiny radioactive particles that show up on imaging. These particles show blood flow and highlight areas where that flow may be impaired. Dr. Lewis captures images of your heart at rest and after exercise, then compares them to look for potential issues.
Nuclear stress tests can help Dr. Lewis:
- Diagnose cardiovascular disease
- Evaluate the structure of your heart
- Monitor a heart-related problem
- Map out treatment
- Evaluate the effectiveness of current treatment
They can also be used to find the cause of specific heart-related symptoms, like chest pain or shortness of breath.
What to expect during your nuclear stress test
A stress test involves physical activity, so dress in loose clothing and wear comfortable shoes. At the very start of the test, we place sticky electrodes on your chest and other parts of your body. These are the same kind of electrodes used in a regular EKG.
Throughout your test, the electrodes provide continual information about your heart’s electrical activity. An IV is placed in your arm, the nuclear tracer is administered, and after the material circulates, we capture images of your heart at rest.
Now it’s time for the exercise part of the test. Stress tests (nuclear and other types) require walking on a treadmill or using a stationary bike to get your heart up to a target rate. If you’re not healthy enough for that type of exertion, Dr. Lewis uses a medicine to mimic the effects of exercise. The effects of the medicine are temporary and wear off quickly.
Once your heart reaches that target rate, we capture additional images showing how your heart and surrounding blood vessels react to physical exertion. After those images are captured, you’ll rest for about 10-15 minutes before being allowed to leave the office. There’s no downtime afterward, and the injected dye is eliminated naturally from your body.
Keep your heart healthy
Nuclear stress tests play an important role in diagnosing and managing cardiovascular disease. If you have heart-related symptoms or a personal or family history of cardiovascular problems, routine evaluations are essential. To learn more about nuclear stress testing or to schedule a cardiac evaluation, call 772-200-3829 or book an appointment online with the team at TLC Medical Group today.