What is it? This test is done to evaluate blood flow to the heart. A small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into the vein and a special camera, called a gamma camera, detects the radiation released by the tracer and produces computer images of the heart.
If you are able to exercise, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill so that your physician can determine if there is adequate blood flow to the heart during activity versus at rest.
What happens during the test? When the test begins an IV will be started and a small amount of radioactive tracer will be injected. After about 30 minutes a set of resting images will be taken, where you will be asked to lie very still under the gamma camera with your arms above your head.
After the resting images have been captured, you will then be asked to walk on a treadmill. As the test progresses, the speed and incline of the treadmill will increase. The length of the test depends on your physical fitness and symptoms. The goal is to have your heart work hard for about 8 to 12 minutes. Once your heart rate has reached a set target more images will be taken with the gamma camera.
Preparing for the Test:
- Do not eat or drink anything the day of your test. If you need to take any medications, do so with small sips of water.
- Avoid all caffeine and nicotine products for 24 hours prior to your test.
- Bring a list of all the medications you take with you to your appointment.
- Your physician may ask you to stop taking some heart medications the day of your test. If you have any questions about your medications walk with your physician and do not discontinue any medication without talking to your physician first.
- Following your test you should be able to drive. However, if you are not feeling well we will not allow you to leave until you feel better.
- Any family or friends who accompany you will have to remain in the lobby during your test.