Nuclear Stress Test – A Test Close to the Heart

Nuclear Stress Test

The vastness of the heart has never been unknown to the human. Moreover, the incessant evolution of civilizations has cultivated this blood-pumping organ into a phenomenon that everyone is so closely connected to. There is no need to tell how we react to the heart’s responses; but how does a heart react to our responses? Is there any way to find it out?

Well, sure there is. It’s called “Nuclear Stress Test”. It is a test used in Cardiology that lets us monitor the heart’s varying responses to the external stress conditions in a controlled clinical environment. In simple words, this test is conducted to measure the blood flow to the heart, while it is resting as well as while it is stressed out. It is generally used as a diagnostic test for Ischemic Heart Disease, and also as a prognosis of a heart attack.

How stress is induced on a heart is simple. The heart is monitored immediately after the subject has undergone a strenuous activity (like exercise) or after he is given a particular stress generating medicine. The blood flow to a heart in both the situations (rest and stress) is compared, and is studied to find if there is any abnormal blood flow to the heart’s muscle tissue. The result is viewed against the general health condition of the subject.

The Nuclear Stress Test begins by putting small electrodes on chest and back. The wires stemming from these electrodes are attached to an electrocardiogram machine. After this prerequisite, a subject will be put in some kind of activity – running on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or simply after the stress generating medicine is given. Now a radiotracer is injected into the body, and after some time gamma images of the blood flow are taken to ensure the radiotracer is distributed around evenly. After couple of hours, during which the subject was made to rest and relax, again electrodes are fixed and radiotracer is tracked. Gamma images are taken again. These two sets of images are put into comparison to assess the state of coronary arteries.

The preparation for the Nuclear Stress Test is nothing much to worry about. Following the below given instruction suffices the test prerequisite.

  • Not to eat or drink anything after midnight
  • Avoid caffeine for 24 hours before the test
  • If doctor suggests, stop taking any medicine before the test, because some medicines interfere with the test results. However, don’t stop medicines if not directed by the doctor.
  • It is important to notify the doctor, in case you have consumed a dose of Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes with nonskid soles.

After taking these precautions, you are absolutely ready for the Nuclear Stress Test. Depending on each individual, the response will vary. In any case, fatigue, muscle cramps, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, are few symptoms that are generally experienced.

So, in case you have any apprehensions about the Nuclear Stress Test, throw them away and get ready to know what your heart has to say.

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