Pharmacologic With Radiopharmacologic Stress Testing
What you should know
Pharmacologic with radiopharmacologic stress testing is also called a nuclear stress test. It uses medicine to stress your heart and make it work just as it does when you exercise. A radioactive liquid is also used to help compare blood flow to your heart at rest and during stress.
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You may have an allergic reaction to the liquid. A reaction can cause nausea, vomiting, or trouble breathing. The test may cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and weak. You may feel your heart throbbing or have extra heartbeats, chest pains, or a heart attack.
The week before your test:
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. A small amount of similar liquid will be given during the test through an IV to help caregivers see the pictures better.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
- Tell your caregiver if you are taking blood pressure or blood vessel medicines. He may ask you to stop taking these at least 48 hours before your test.
- Tell your caregiver if you are or think that you might be pregnant.
- Talk to your caregiver if you are breastfeeding. You may need to stop breastfeeding for a time because of the liquid used for this test.
- You may need to have some other tests done before the stress test. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
The day of your test:
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothes on the day of your test. Wear walking shoes in case you need to exercise during the test.
What will happen:
- Electrodes (sticky patches) will be put on your chest. Hair may need to be removed to help the patches stick to your skin. The electrodes will be attached to wires that send the electrical activity of your heart to the ECG monitor. A tracing of the heart while you are resting is recorded. The radioactive liquid will be given through your IV to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
- It may take some time before the heart muscles absorb the radioactive liquid. Pictures of your heart at rest will be taken with a x-ray machine. Then medicine used to place your heart under stress will be given. ECG tracings, and the rate and rhythm of your heart will be checked. You will receive a second dose of the liquid, and pictures will be taken during and after it has been given. Images taken of your heart at rest and while under stress will be compared. Your caregiver may also use CT scans or MRI during this test. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.
After your test:
If you are staying in the hospital after the test, caregivers will take you to your room. If you plan to go home after the test but need to wait for test results, bring a friend or family member to wait with you. They can support you during and after the test.
Contact a caregiver if
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your test or medicines.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have nausea.
- You have chest pain or discomfort that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
- You are sweating more than usual or have sudden trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.