What is a pharmacological Cardiac MRI stress test?

A pharmacological Cardiac MRI stress test is a diagnostic test. It is used to check the blood flow to the heart. An exercise stress test is another way to check the blood flow, but if you cannot exercise or if your heart rate does not go up enough with exercise, this test may be done instead. The test can help determine if your heart is getting enough blood while you are active compared to when you are resting.

During the test, you will receive a small amount of medication (adenosine, dipyridamole or regadenoson). This medication makes the coronary arteries open (dilate) much like they do when you exercise. This causes more blood to flow and simulates the effect of exercise for patients who cannot exercise on a treadmill. The medication causes only a slight increase in your heart rate.

A small amount of MRI dye (gadolinium) is injected into a vein while you are resting and again after you receive the medication. An MRI scanner takes pictures of the gadolinium dye as it passes through your heart muscle. This creates computer images of your heart for your doctor to review.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/12/2019.

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