Shortness of breath. Rapid heartbeat. Chest pain. Yes, these are all common symptoms that many experience during the stressful holiday season. But they could be a sign of a much more serious issue.
You should never dismiss these types of symptoms. And you should always consult your primary care physician immediately if you begin experiencing any type of heart-related episodes. To help diagnose or rule out any potential severe cardiac issues, your primary care doctor may refer you to a cardiologist to undergo a cardiolite stress test.
A cardiolite stress test, also commonly referred to as a nuclear stress test or a myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) test, is one of the most common, non-invasive diagnostic heart tests performed. It uses a radioactive imaging tracer to measure the blood flow to your heart muscles. It can show if you have any blockages or heart damage affecting blood flow.
Cardiolite stress tests can be highly beneficial and play a vital role in diagnosing and managing cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. So let’s take a closer look at how a nuclear stress test works to diagnose and treat heart problems.
How is a Cardiolite (Nuclear) Stress Test Performed?
Before your stress test begins, a nurse or technician will insert an IV line into your arm. They will then inject the radiotracer solution into your bloodstream. It can take a few minutes for your heart cells to absorb the solution. You will then lie still on a table as a gamma camera takes images of your heart. For a nuclear stress test, two sets of images are taken – one set while your heart is at rest and a second set when it’s under stress (exercise).
Prior to you starting the actual stress test, a nurse or technician will place electrodes (sticky little patches) on your chest. These electrodes help to monitor your heartbeat using an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) machine. Your blood pressure will also be monitored throughout the test.
For the test, you will walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. Your speed and incline will incline to get your heart rate up. You’ll continue to exercise and exert yourself until you reach a predetermined target set by your physician.
Once you reach your targeted heart rate, you’ll receive another injection of the radiotracer, and the second set of images will be taken of your heart. These images provide your physician with a detailed look at your heart when it’s forced to pump more blood than normal.
What If I’m Unable to Exercise During My Stress Test?
If for any reason you’re unable to engage in physical activity, such as on the treadmill or the stationary bike, your doctor will inject a medication into your IV line that increases blood flow to your heart. This will safely mimic the effect exercise has on your heart. You may even experience side effects similar to those caused by exercise, such as flushing or shortness of breath.
Benefits of a Cardiolite Stress Test
Individuals with known cardiac issues and those with no known diagnosed heart conditions can benefit from a nuclear stress test. The stress test provides doctors with important information, including:
- The size of the heart chambers
- How efficient the heart is pumping blood
- If there are any blockages or narrowing of the arteries
- Whether there is any heart damage
If you haven’t already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, the stress test will help your doctor determine your risk of potentially suffering from a heart condition in the future. It provides accurate results of the condition of your heart. It shows if you have signs of damage from an undiagnosed or undetected heart attack or other heart-related episode. This data allows your doctor to prescribe any preventative measures necessary to keep your heart healthy and pumping.
If you’ve been previously diagnosed with heart disease, the data obtained from a nuclear stress test can show the severity of your condition. If you’re currently on a course of treatment, the stress test will gauge its effectiveness. It will show whether your treatment is working, and to what degree. Your physician can then use the data gathered to alter that course of treatment or create a new maintenance treatment plan that is right for you.
Don’t Delay – Get Your Heart Checked Today
No matter how mild your symptoms might be, contact your healthcare provider today if you’re experiencing any signs of heart disease. Heartburn, heavy breathing, chest tightness, dizziness… They can all be warning signs that something serious is going on. Nearly half of all American adults have some sort of cardiovascular disease. It’s not worth taking a chance. A cardiolite stress test can set a benchmark and help monitor your heart disease risk. In addition, it could possibly help to prevent serious damage from occurring.
Get the answers, care, and treatment you deserve and ensure your heart is as healthy as it can be by scheduling an appointment with a VIPcare primary care provider today!