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nuclear stress test

Preparation

Scheduling and Directions

DeKalb Medical performs a nuclear stress test to measure blood flow to your heart muscle at rest and during stress. A nuclear medicine test in Atlanta at DeKalb Medical is performed similar to a routine exercise stress test but provides images in addition to electrocardiograms, allowing doctors to see pictures of your heart at rest and shortly after you have exercised. The nuclear stress test usually includes a heart scan, injection of the radioactive material into your bloodstream while you are exercising and another scan one to two hours after exercise.

During a nuclear stress test, the radioactive substance mixes with your blood and travels to your heart. A special scanner — which detects the radioactive material in your heart — creates images of your heart muscle. The diagnostic images from your nuclear stress test will show inadequate blood flow to any part of your heart.

A nuclear stress test can give information about the size of the heart's chambers, how well the heart is pumping blood and whether the heart has any damaged or dead muscle. The test also can give doctors information about your arteries and whether they might be narrowed or blocked because of coronary artery disease.

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician. Your primary care or referring physician will share the results of your nuclear stress with you.

Click here to watch Dr. Muthayyah Srinivasan explain more about cardiac stress tests.

Preparing for Your Nuclear Stress Test

You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your nuclear stress test procedure. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes with non-skid soles.

You should avoid caffeinated beverages, foods and medicines that contain caffeine (some pain relievers) for 24 hours before your test. If you are taking any medications, discuss those with your doctor before you have your nuclear stress test.

During Your Nuclear Stress Test Procedure

Just like an exercise stress test, you will have 10 electrodes placed on your chest . The electrodes are attached to wires called leads, which are attached to an electrocardiogram machine. You will walk on a treadmill or have a pharmacologic stress test.

Just before the end of your exercise, you will be given an injection of a small amount of radioactive substance. Then, diagnostic images will be taken of your heart to show how it functions during exercise. You’ll be asked to rest for several hours and then return to the testing area so that additional images can be taken of your heart at stress.

Some people feel fatigue, muscle cramps in the legs or feet, shortness of breath, or chest pain during and/or after their nuclear stress test. Tell the technologist if you experience any of these symptoms.

After Your Nuclear Stress Test Procedure

There are no side effects from the radioactive material that is in your body, and it is safe to be around other people.

As soon as the images have been reviewed by the technologist for quality, you can leave and resume your normal activities and diet as directed by your physician. The radiologist or cardiologist who interprets your nuclear medicine procedure will advise your physician as to the finding of the test. Your physician will follow up with you about the results of your nuclear medicine procedure.

Scheduling and Directions

Your physician will contact DeKalb Medical to schedule your nuclear stress test procedure for you. If your physician has placed the medical orders for your specific procedure, you can call 404.501.2660 to schedule your procedure at your convenience.

If your procedure is at DeKalb Medical at North Decatur, go to the hospital’s central registration area.

  • From North Decatur Road, enter the hospital campus via Wash Lively Road.
  • At road end, turn right. (Note: If you are in a wheelchair or need to be dropped off at the entrance, turn left and proceed to the Central Registration patient drop-off which is on the right just past the main hospital entrance. Your driver should then turn around and continue to the Visitor/Patient parking deck.)
  • At stop sign, turn left and park in the Visitor/Patient parking deck.
  • Take any elevator or stairs to the 3rd level.
  • Proceed to the Pedestrian Bridge to the hospital.
  • Take bridge straight ahead to the escalators.
  • Take escalators down one level.
  • Once off escalators, turn right and immediately left and follow the directions to the hospital main lobby.
  • Proceed past the hospital Gift Shop on your right.
  • Once in the main lobby, follow the hallway to Central Registration.
  • At the end of hallway, turn left.
  • Central Registration is on the right.
If your nuclear stress test will be performed at the Imaging Center at DeKalb Medical at North Decatur,
  • From North Decatur Road, enter the hospital campus via Wash Lively Road.
  • The Diagnostic Imaging Center is on the left.
  • Parking is on the left in front of the center and is free for all Imaging Center patients.

If your procedure is being performed at DeKalb Medical at Hillandale, go to the hospital’s registration area.

  • Park in the hospital parking lot.
  • Proceed to the main entrance of the hospital.
  • Registration is directly on the right – you must register before proceeding to the Imaging Department.
  • When you have completed registration, a staff member will direct you to the Imaging Department for your nuclear stress test.

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