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Nuclear Stress Test


A nuclear stress test uses exercise or medicine to put stress on your heart. A radioactive liquid is used to help your heart show up better in pictures. Pictures of your heart are taken before and after you exercise or get medicine. The pictures help your healthcare provider compare blood flow to your heart muscle during rest and stress.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

Seek care immediately if:

  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
  • You have pain, redness, or swelling in the area where the medicine was injected.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Drink plenty of liquids as directed. This will help flush the radioactive liquid out of your body. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after you urinate or have a bowel movement. The radioactive liquid leaves your body through your urine and bowel movements. Anyone that touches your urine or bowel movements should also wash his or her hands.
  • Do not hug or sleep next to children, pets, or pregnant women for 24 hours. This will prevent exposing them to radiation. Radiation can be harmful to children, pets, and unborn babies.
  • Do not breastfeed for 2 to 3 days or as directed. Radioactive liquid can leave your body through your breast milk and harm your baby.

Heart-healthy tips:

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause heart and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Create an exercise plan with your healthcare provider. Do not begin an exercise plan before you talk to your healthcare provider. Exercise helps to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, talk to your healthcare provider about how to lose weight. A weight loss of 10% can improve your heart health.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your meal plan. Choose low-fat foods, such as skim or 1% fat milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt, fish, chicken (without skin), and lean meats. Eat two 4-ounce servings of fish high in omega-3 fats each week, such as salmon, fresh tuna, and herring. Do not eat foods that are high in sodium, such as canned foods, potato chips, salty snacks, and cold cuts. Put less table salt on your food.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol and how much is safe to drink. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.