Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test


What is a Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test?

This test is used to determine the extent of coronary artery disease and pre-surgical clearance.

Test Details

How to prepare for a Nuclear Cardiac Rest / Stress Procedure

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

The short answer is no. However, you may drink small sips of water to help you swallow your medications.

  • Avoid all products containing caffeine for 24 hours before the test. In general, caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas and other soft drinks as well as most chocolate products.
  • Avoid decaffeinated or caffeine-free products for 24 hours before the test, as these products contain trace amounts of caffeine.
  • DO NOT SMOKE ON THE DAY OF THE TEST, as nicotine will interfere with the results of your test.

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Please bring a copy of all of your medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements that you routinely take, to the test appointment.

  • DO NOT take any over-the-counter medication that contains caffeine (such as Excedrin, Anacin, diet pills and No Doz) for 24 hours before the test.
    • Ask your physician, pharmacist or nurse if you have questions about other medications that may contain caffeine.
  • If you have asthma: Your physician will tell you NOT to take theophylline (Theo-dur) for 48 hours before the test.
    • Please plan to bring your asthma inhaler mediation to the test.
  • If you have diabetes: If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your physician how much insulin you should take the day of the test.
    • Your doctor may tell you to takeonly half of your usual morning dose and to eat a light meal 4 hours before the test. Bring your diabetes medications with you so you can take it when the test iscomplete. Do not take your diabetes medication and skip a meal before the test.
  • If you take pills to control your blood sugar, do not take your medication until after the test is complete.
    • If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab personnel immediately. Plan to eat and take your blood sugar medication following your test.
  • If you take heart medications: DO NOT take the following heart medications on the day of the test unless your physician tells you otherwise, or unless it is needed to treat chest discomfort the day of the test
    • Isosorbide dinitrate (for example: Dilatrate, Isordil)
    • Isosorbide mononitrate (for example: Imdur, ISMO, Monoket)
    • Nitroglycerin (for example: Minitran, Nitropatches, Nitrostat)
    • Dipyridamole (Persantine) -- Stop taking 48 hours before the test
    • Beta Blockers (for example: metoprolol, metoprolol XL, atenolol)

How long does the test take?

This procedure usually takes three to four hours to accomplish. We will image the heart twice, once before exercise and again shortly after exercise. In order to visualize your heart under our camera we will be giving you an injection of a radioactive isotope into a vein in your arm. There are no side effects to this injection. The exercise is accomplished via walking on a treadmill until your blood vessels dilate naturally or using a drug to pharmacologically dilate your blood vessels, thus simulating actual physical exercise. Your doctor will determine which type of exercise you will do.

How soon will the scan results be available?

A Nuclear Cardiologist will interpret the images, write a report, and deliver the results to your doctor via the internal computer system.

It is essential to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant before undergoing this scan because of radiation exposure.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/02/2019.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy