Nuclear Stress Test

Henry Ford offers the most advanced nuclear stress techniques available, which test blood flow through your heart’s arteries.

Cardiovascular conditions are complex, and an accurate diagnosis is key. One important tool that may help to diagnose certain conditions is a nuclear stress test. If you have been referred for this test, you likely have many questions.

The Henry Ford difference

  • Expertise: Our specialists include fellowship-trained cardiology and radiology specialists representing all testing types, American College of Radiology (ACR) certified technologists and certified exercise physiologists, and cardiology testing trained nurses.
  • Latest technology: We offer a state-of-the-art imaging technology center, ensuring that we can offer the best imaging option available that meets your specific needs.
  • A focus on safety: Patient safety is our primary goal. We use exclusive protocols that are customized for you, and which are designed to exceed national and manufacturer’s standards.
  • Range of treatments: An accurate diagnosis is only the first step. We also offer the full spectrum of advanced treatment options for all heart and vascular conditions, including rare diseases.

What is a nuclear stress test?

  • A nuclear stress test is a minimally invasive nuclear imaging technique that studies blood flow in coronary arteries.
  • Before the procedure, a radioactive tracer dye is injected into your arm and taken up by your heart’s arteries.
  • Using special equipment, we take several detailed images of your heart while it’s under stress. These individual images, or “slices” are combined by a computer into a 3-D picture of your heart.
  • The stress component can come from actual exercise that you do during the test, through a special medication, or both.
  • The nuclear stress test detects how well blood is flowing through your heart, if there are any blockages in your coronary arteries, the size of your heart’s chambers, and whether there is scar tissue, abnormal substances or other damage in the heart.
  • Our team of specialists has worked to make sure the testing process is as streamlined as possible, given that you may be understandably nervous. Our team will prepare, assess and monitor you throughout the process.

Why do I need one?

Your cardiology team may order a nuclear stress test for several reasons:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): The most common type of heart disease, this refers to a narrowed or blocked heart artery. This blockage is often related to a process known as atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque, a waxy substance made up of cholesterol and other materials. A nuclear stress test may be used to determine if CAD is present and how extensive it is. Given that this test may help detect early atherosclerosis, if you have certain risk factors your physician may order a scan even if you have no symptoms.
  • Exercise guidance: If you already have CAD, this test can help to determine an appropriate amount of exercise for your treatment plan. This is to help ensure blood flow is stable during exercise to avoid stress on your heart.
  • Treatment progress: If you are already being treated for heart disease, your physician may order a nuclear stress test to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment.
  • Unusual diseases: This test also helps detect and follow treatment for rare diseases that can affect the heart, such as sarcoidosis and amyloidosis.

Given the variety of heart imaging tests that are available, and the fact that there can be more than one test available for some conditions, you may be confused on what you need. In addition, your physician may order a different test to help clarify the results of a previous one.

As part of your personalized treatment plan, your Henry Ford cardiology team will explain why they are recommending the specific test or tests for your condition, explain how each one works and answer any of your questions.

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