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Nuclear Cardiology Stress Testing

We perform two types of cardiolite stress tests:

  1. Exercise cardiolite stress test
  2. Pharmacologic cardiolite stress test.  The Pharmacologic cardiac stress test can be performed with either Adenosine or Lexiscan.

How is the nuclear cardiolite stress test performed?

Cardiolite is a nuclear radioactive isotope termed Technetium Tc99m Sestamibi. Cardiolite is injected through an IV and it travels in the bloodstream and through the coronary arteries until it is picked up by the heart muscle cells. The areas of the heart that have an adequate blood supply pick up the tracer right away and more completely. Areas that do not have adequate blood supply pick up the tracer very slowly or not at all.

Cardiolite gives off a small amount of radiation that is detected with a nuclear scanning camera. A computer processes the information and produces the images of the radioactivity distributed in the heart.

If an area receives less blood than the rest of the heart (because of a blocked or narrowed artery), it will pick up a lower level of radioactivity and will show up as a lighter area, called a "defect."

As coronary artery disease (CAD) progresses, the heart muscle may not receive enough blood when under stress (exercise for example) which may results in chest pain.  If CAD is limiting blood flow to part of your heart, the stress test with Cardiolite may be useful in detecting the presence and significance of CAD.

Cardiolite is injected while you are at rest and while your heart is under stress. Rest and stress images are taken to allow doctors to compare how much blood flows through the heart muscle during rest and under stress.

The amount of radiation you will be exposed to is comparable to that from an X-ray or CAT (CT) scan. The half-life of Cardiolite is 6.02 hours. This means that half of the dose you are given will decay in 6.02 hours.

Generally, Cardiolite is cleared from your body in 24 hours by natural processes. You won't feel any different after you are injected with Cardiolite. Most patients experience no side effects.

What is Adenosine and Lexiscan?

Adenosine and Lexiscan are pharmacological stress agent used to put your heart under exercise like conditions when you are unable to walk on a treadmill.

You can experience a multitude of different side effects from these pharmacologic stress drugs – like leg cramps, shortness of breath, chest pressure, headache and/or nausea. Please know that these side effects are short lived (within a few min) and are quickly resolved. 

How do I get the results of my test?

After a cardiologist has interpreted your test, the results will be sent to your primary care physician and/or you will be called directly with results. 

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