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A Nuclear Stress Test Provides More Insight


Seeing exactly how well the body functions during periods of work and exercise can provide valuable insight for medical professionals seeking to diagnose and treat serious conditions. It can also be very valuable to determine how much, if any, exercise is recommended for a particular person based on their body's ability to handle the stress. To really see what is going on with a person, many doctors prescribe a procedure called the nuclear stress test.

While a nuclear stress test might sound like a space age version of torture, it also is a valuable procedure that can offer much insight. A nuclear stress test is performed in much the same manner as an exercise test, but this version includes the use of a radioactive substance injected into the body and a camera that can determine blood flow in the heart thanks to that substance. During the testing, patients are generally asked to perform mild to moderate exercise to make their hearts work a little harder. Doing this can help doctors determine how well a heart functions when it is under stress.

The Two Kinds Of Tests

Nuclear stress tests generally are ordered in one of two different forms. They are:

• Myocardial perfusion. In this particular nuclear stress test, a person is made to exercise on a bicycle or treadmill. At the point their heart reaches its maximum rate, an injection of radioactive substance is given. Pictures are then taken after exercise and several hours later. This can how blood flow into the heart and also enable doctors to detect coronary artery disease.
• Multigated acquisition. In this nuclear stress test, patients are given the injection prior to exercising. Pictures of the heart are taken before and after the heart. This test shows how well the heart pumps blood and how it performs in motion.

Importance Of Testing

A nuclear stress test is generally given to help a doctor determine if there is a problem present with the heart and/or circulation system. It may also be used to see if steps that have been taken to improve blood flow are in fact working.

When a nuclear stress test is performed in time to diagnose conditions before they become life threatening, action can be taken to prevent tragedy. If the arteries are clogged, for example, surgical procedures can be used to lessen the amount of plaque and improve blood flow to keep the heart functioning well.

Keeping the heart and body functioning as it should sometimes requires the use of unusual testing procedures. When doctors want to really gauge how well a heart functions and actually "see" what is going on, a nuclear stress test can provide the answers.

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