One of the advanced forms of diagnostic testing available at Levine Heart & Wellness in Naples, Florida, is nuclear stress testing. Experienced cardiologists Ronald Levine, MD, and Ronald Caputo, MD, FACC, FSCAI, perform a nuclear stress test to see whether there are areas of damage or poor blood flow in your heart when you have cardiac-related symptoms. Find out more about nuclear stress testing and how it can help diagnose your heart problem by calling Levine Heart & Wellness today or booking an appointment using the online form.
A nuclear stress test takes two readings of your heart activity — one at rest, and another while you're exercising. The test involves having radioactive dye called a tracer injected into your blood that shows up on a diagnostic imaging machine.
Nuclear stress testing shows your provider at Levine Heart & Wellness whether any areas in your heart have damage or where there's reduced blood flow.
Your provider might recommend a nuclear stress test if you've already had other tests for heart-related symptoms, but no cause has come to light.
If you have pain in your chest or feel short of breath even at rest, it could mean you have a problem like coronary artery disease. Routine procedures like an electrocardiogram (EKG) and standard stress tests might not show the cause of your symptoms in every case.
Nuclear stress testing can also be useful for guiding treatment once you have a diagnosis for your heart problems. Your provider can measure improvement in your heart function after you start your treatment.
There are two ways to perform a nuclear stress test. If you're able, you exercise on a treadmill once the dye is in your bloodstream. If you can't exercise, your provider at Levine Heart & Wellness gives you medication that increases blood flow to simulate the effects of exercise.
You receive the medications via an intravenous (IV) line into your arm. The radioactive tracer can feel cold as it enters your bloodstream. After about 40 minutes, your heart should have absorbed the tracer, and you can undergo your first imaging scan.
If you're exercising on a treadmill, you begin slowly and increase the effort you're putting in until you reach a preset target. You might have to stop earlier if you experience symptoms like chest pain or breathlessness.
Once your heart rate peaks, you get another injection of the tracer and undergo a second round of diagnostic imaging. Your provider at Levine Heart & Wellness then compares the images before and after exercise.
If your blood flow is normal when resting but inadequate when exercising, it could mean you have coronary artery disease. If you have poor blood flow at rest as well, you could have severe coronary artery disease.
Another possibility is that you might have had a heart attack, which can also prevent the radioactive tracer from showing up in some areas of your heart.
If you have insufficient blood flow in your heart, you might need a coronary angiography to view the blood vessels in detail. Severe coronary artery disease could require an intervention such as angioplasty, stent placement, or a coronary artery bypass.
Call Levine Heart & Wellness today for more information or book an appointment online.