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Cardiac Perfusion Scan

How It Is Done continued...

Sometimes more pictures are taken after you rest for 2 to 4 hours. Most people can resume their normal diet and activities after the final set of scans.

Stress scan using exercise

For stress scans using exercise, your heart rate will be checked with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). Because EKG electrodes need to be attached to the chest to check the heart, men are usually bare-chested and women usually wear a bra, gown, or loose shirt. To learn more, see the topic Electrocardiogram.

The exercise stress scan is done in two parts. First a set of resting images is taken, then a set of stress images is taken immediately after exercise. Sometimes the stress scan is done first and the resting scan might be done the next day.

In many hospitals, first resting pictures are taken using one type of tracer. More pictures are taken using a different tracer after your heart has been stressed by exercise.

In this stress test, you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. Your heart rate will be checked during the test with standard electrocardiography. Your blood pressure is checked using a blood pressure cuff placed on your arm. To learn more, see the topic Exercise Electrocardiogram.

You will begin by walking or pedaling slowly and easily. Every few minutes, the speed or incline of the treadmill or resistance of the bike may be increased. You will exercise until you need to stop or until you reach a suitable heart rate. At that point, you will be given a different tracer medicine through your IV. You will probably continue to exercise for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to circulate the radioactive tracer.

You will then lie down on a table for scanning. Each scan takes 5 to 10 minutes. The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are not exposed to any additional radiation while the scan is being done.

Sometimes more pictures are taken after you rest for 30 minutes to 4 hours. In some hospitals, you are given more radioactive tracer several hours after exercise and before the final image.

Most people can resume their normal diet and activities after the final set of scans.

How It Feels

The cardiac scanning test itself is painless.

  • You may feel a brief stinging or burning sensation when the IV is inserted into your vein.
  • You may be uncomfortable lying still for an extended period of time on the table during the scans.
  • If medicine to stress your heart is used, you may have symptoms of mild nausea, headache, dizziness, flushing, or chest pain. These symptoms only last a few minutes.
  • If you are asked to exercise, you may have chest pain, breathlessness, lightheadedness, aching in your leg muscles, and fatigue. Report these to the technician. If the symptoms are severe, the exercise part of the test may be stopped.
  • You will be asked to remain very still during each scan, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes. The camera will move to take more pictures at different angles. Several scans will be taken.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 09, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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