Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test

What is a nuclear cardiac stress test?

A nuclear cardiac stress test is used to assess the blood flow to your heart muscles during exercise and rest. It is also called a nuclear perfusion scan or myocardial perfusion imaging.

A nuclear cardiac stress test is a common test used to diagnose heart problems. It may be used to complement a regular electrocardiogram (ECG), which detects abnormal electrical activity in the heart and pinpoints heart blockages exactly.

How it works

During the procedure, your doctor will inject a small amount of a radioactive compound (called a tracer) into a vein in your arm. The tracer will be swept from your blood quickly by heart muscle cells.

Your doctor will take 2 sets of images of your heart using a gamma camera — when you are resting and after you exercise. If radioactivity is not seen in parts of the heart, this means that there is a lack of blood supply to that part.

Why do you need a nuclear cardiac stress test?

Your doctor may request a nuclear cardiac stress test to:

  • Assess blood flow to your heart walls.
  • Determine the cause of chest pain if you experience chest pain for no clear reason or during exercise.
  • Check if any coronary (heart) arteries are blocked and the extent of any blockage.
  • Find out the extent of damage to your heart if you experienced a heart attack. If the tracer cannot be detected in some areas of the heart, this could indicate scar tissue, or damaged heart tissue from a heart attack.
  • Assess blood flow to your heart after a heart bypass surgery or angioplasty (re-opening of blocked heart arteries using a balloon or a stent).

Who should not undergo a nuclear cardiac stress test?

You should not undergo this test if you:

  • Have a flu with fever.
  • Have an infectious disease such as sore eyes or chicken pox.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding, to avoid exposure to radiation.
  • Are feeling lethargic.

What are the risks and complications of a nuclear cardiac stress test?

A nuclear cardiac stress test is generally safe. Rare complications include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) occurring during a stress test. This is usually temporary. Life-threatening arrhythmias due to the test are rare.
  • Dizziness or chest pain can happen during a nuclear cardiac stress test. Other mild and brief symptoms may include feeling anxious, feeling out of breath, nausea, shakiness, headache and flushing during the test.
  • Heart attack due to the test. This is extremely rare.
  • Low blood pressure during or immediately after the exercise. You may feel dizzy or faint but will recover after the stress test.

Why choose Mount Elizabeth Hospitals?

Mount Elizabeth Hospitals are established private hospitals in Singapore for cardiovascular care and treatments. Our experienced team of cardiovascular specialists are ready to provide timely diagnosis and treatment to your heart conditions. We conduct nuclear cardiac stress tests in a conducive setting to ensure optimal results.

Our cardiologists

Mount Elizabeth is home to Asia Pacific's largest concentration of heart specialists. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses and therapists will guide you through your heart treatment and recovery, with care and professionalism.

Please check with your insurance provider for more information, and for their most up-to-date list of panel doctors.

^Specialists may qualify to be on the Extended Panel (EP). You may enjoy selected panel benefits depending on your policy and riders.
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