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Our Services / Nuclear Stress Testing

Cardiologist, Electrophysiology & Interventional Cardiology located in Ladera Ranch, CA & Irvine, CA

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Nuclear Stress Testing

As one of the most important diagnostic tools for coronary artery disease, nuclear stress testing can uncover significant information about your cardiovascular system, including your risk of having a heart attack. The team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County performs both types of nuclear stress tests — resting and active — on a regular basis at their offices in Ladera Ranch and Irvine, California. Call today, or book your appointment online at any time.

Nuclear Stress Testing Q & A

What is nuclear stress testing?

Nuclear stress testing is a simple diagnostic tool that combines a small amount of radioactive dye with a sophisticated cardiovascular imaging machine to gather detailed information about how well blood flows to your heart, both when it’s resting and when it’s under exertion.  

Also known as myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), this painless imaging technique is like a standard stress test, but with the addition of a radioactive tracer that effectively highlights your heart and your arteries to reveal a far more detailed picture of your cardiovascular system. 

Why might I need a nuclear stress test?

The team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County may recommend nuclear stress testing when a regular stress test hasn’t pinpointed the underlying cause of a nonspecific symptom like intermittent chest pain or shortness of breath. 

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition, they may use nuclear stress testing to help identify the best treatment approach.  

What does nuclear stress testing show?

Nuclear stress testing reveals how well your heart works when you’re resting and when you’re active. This highlighted cardiovascular imaging technique exposes several key details about your heart and your arteries, including: 

  • How efficiently your heart pumps blood
  • How your heart responds under exertion
  • The presence of blockages in your arteries
  • The size of your heart and its chambers

Nuclear stress testing can also detect damaged heart tissue. It can help your doctor evaluate the extent of tissue damage caused by a known heart attack, and it can also reveal if you’ve had any minor heart attacks that went unnoticed.  

What do my nuclear stress test results mean?

While nuclear stress testing offers detailed and specific information about your cardiovascular health, most results fall into one of three categories:  

Normal results 

Normal nuclear stress test results indicate that your heart receives enough oxygen-rich blood when it’s pumping normally (at rest) and when it’s pumping faster (under exertion). 

While you might not have to worry about coronary artery disease, further testing may be warranted if you have persistent cardiovascular symptoms. 

Abnormal results under stress

If your results show that your heart works well and receives sufficient blood flow when it’s at rest but not when it’s under exertion, you may be experiencing the effects of coronary artery disease or an arterial blockage. 

Abnormal results 

Abnormal results both at rest and under exertion mean that the blood flow to your heart is insufficient or obstructed, regardless of your level of activity. These results usually indicate a substantial degree of coronary artery disease or heart tissue damage.

To learn more, call the nearest Coastal Cardiology of Orange County office, or book an appointment online today.