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Nuclear Medicine Cardiac Stress Test Instructions

Appointment date and time____________________________________

Cardiac nuclear imaging tests how well the heart functions and if there are any blockages in the heart. The test is also sometimes called a “perfusion scan.” For the scan, a safe amount of radioactive matter called “tracer” is delivered into the bloodstream. A camera then scans the tracer in the blood as it flows through the heart muscle. The tracer leaves your body within hours. This test can be done in a hospital or test center.


Major Hospital Radiology Department. Enter through the main Entrance. Turn right at the information desk to enter the radiolgy department.

If you need to reschedule or cancel your test, please call Radiology at 317-421-5657. Please give 24 hours notice for cancellations. There may be an isotope charge if appointment is not cancelled 24 hours prior to exam.

Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment time to check-in and get set up. This is very important to ensure that everyone is served in a timely manner.

Before Your Test

Man on treadmill

CAT scan
A scanning camera takes pictures of blood flow through the heart muscle.

  • Allow at least 3 hours for the exam.

  • Prepare a list of all over-the-counter or prescription medications, herbs, or supplements you are taking. Bring this list to your appointment.

  • Do not take any medications the morning of the test.

  • Medications called Beta-Blockers (metoprolol, atenolol, Lopressor, Toprol, Coreg, carvedilol, etc) should not be taken 48 hours before test.

  • Diabetic patients only may eat a light breakfast and take insulin or diabetic medications as usual, all other patients, nothing to eat or drink the morning of the test.

  • Do not have any caffeine for 24 hours prior to test. This includes coffee, tea, chocolates, soft drinks, energy drinks, medication containing caffiene, etc.

  • No smoking after midnight the morning of the test.

  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit, top and bottoms. Be sure to wear walking shoes. You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up. Women will be given a short hospital gown to wear.

During Your Test

  • Small pads (electodes) will be placed on your chest to monitor your heartbeat throughout the test.

  • You will be attached to blood pressure monitors and your blood pressure will also be monitored throughout the test.

  • An IV will be started in your arm to administer the isotope (tracer) for the test.

  • Images of your heart will be taken at rest and after exercise.

  • You will exercise on a treadmill. If you are unable to exercise, special medications can be given to increase your heart rate as you are exercising.

  • During the image scanning time, you will be asked to lie very still for up to 30 minutes. During this time, a scanning camera will be brought close to you as images are taken.

After Your Test

Most people can go back to their normal routine as soon as all parts of the test are finished. You will be given any special instructions if needed.


Report Any Symptoms

Be sure to tell the doctor if you feel any of the following during the test:

  • Chest, arm, or jaw discomfort

  • Severe shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Leg cramps or soreness

  • Fatigue

© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.