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Nuclear Cardiac Scan

What is a Nuclear Cardiac Scan?

A nuclear cardiac scan measures blood flow to your heart muscle both at rest and during stress on the heart. It’s performed similar to a routine exercise stress test, but provides images that can show areas of low blood flow through the heart and areas of damaged heart muscle. A nuclear stress test usually involves taking two sets of images of your heart — one set during an exercise stress test while you’re exercising on a treadmill or with medication that stresses your heart, and another while you’re at rest. A nuclear stress test is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity and at rest.

How Do I Prepare for Nuclear Cardiac Scan?

  • No food or drink should be ingested for at least four hous before the test. 
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
  • No beta-blockers the morning of the test (unless your physician specifies otherwise).  Beta blockers include:  Blocadren, Corgard, Inderal, Lopressor, Toprol, Trandate,Sectral, Tenormin, Visken, and Ziac.
  • Allow two to three hours for the exam
  • Some nuclear tests are scheduled over two days, requiring approximately one and one-half hour per day.  This is necessary in order to provide high quality images for some patients. 
  • Important.  For nuclear testing with adenosine stress:  No caffeine, coffee or caffeinated beverages for 12 hours prior to the test.  This includes colas, tea, chocolate products, and even decaffeinated coffee.  No theophylline medications for 24 hours before the test.