Nuclear Stress Test Specialist

Amer Zaheer, MD -  - Internal Medicine Physician

Choice Family Medicine

Amer Zaheer, MD

Internal Medicine Physician & Internal Medicine located in Houston, TX

If you’ve been experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath while exercising, a nuclear stress test might be the best way of figuring out the cause and whether there’s an underlying heart condition provoking these symptoms. Choice Family Medicine specializes in helping men and women living in and around Houston determine precisely how much exercise their heart can withstand. Call or book an appointment online today to learn more.

Nuclear Stress Test Q & A

What is a nuclear stress test?

A nuclear stress test is generally used to measure blood flow both while you’re at rest and exerting yourself. It uses a radioactive dye and an imaging machine to formulate pictures of your blood flow to the heart.

Your doctor at Choice Family Medicine injects the radioactive dye intravenously to take two sets of images of your heart. These images can, in turn, help determine your risk of having a heart attack or other cardiac event.

Why should I get a nuclear stress test?

Your provider at Choice Family Medicine often turns to a nuclear stress test if other tests have yielded inconclusive results when it comes to determining the cause of your symptoms. They also use this test to monitor your treatment should you receive a diagnosis that you have a heart condition.

In addition to monitoring the success of your treatment, nuclear stress tests can also help determine how much exercise your heart and body can withstand.

Nuclear stress tests are also instrumental in diagnosing coronary artery disease (CAD). If you’re suffering from coronary artery disease, it means your arteries aren’t correctly delivering blood to your heart.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease often include shortness of breath or chest pain. In most cases, this is the result of damage or condition related to cholesterol and plaques deposits.

What happens during a nuclear stress test?

Before starting the nuclear stress test, your provider at Choice Family Medicine inserts an intravenous line into your arm through which they administer a radioactive dye. It generally takes up to 40 minutes for your heart to absorb the dye.

Once the dye has been absorbed, you’ll lie still on a table so that an initial set of images can be taken while your heart is at rest.

To test your heart’s function during exercise, electrodes are placed on your chest, legs, and arms so that the electrocardiogram machine can record the signals that trigger your heartbeat. You’ll have a cuff on your arm to monitor your blood pressure during the test.

You’ll continue to exercise until your heart rate has reached a set target. Once you’ve achieved it, your provider injects another dose of the radioactive dye to take a second image of your heart after exercise. This image identifies the areas of your heart that aren’t receiving proper blood flow.

What are the risks of a nuclear stress test?

While a nuclear stress test is generally safe, some potential risks include:

  • Allergic reaction to the dye
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Dizziness or chest pain
  • Low blood pressure

If you’re looking to learn more about how much exercise your heart can handle, or want to monitor an existing heart condition, call or use online booking to schedule your appointment at Choice Family Medicine today.