Cardiac Perfusion Scan
How It Is Done continued...
For stress scans using exercise, your heart rate will be checked
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. For more information, see
the medical test
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. 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. For more information, see the medical tests
Exercise Electrocardiogram and
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, a different tracer medicine is injected.
You will probably continue to exercise for an additional 30 to 60 seconds 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. You may usually resume your normal diet and activities after the
final set of scans.
In some hospitals, a second injection of radioactive tracer is
repeated several hours after exercise and before the final image. You may be
asked to return 24 hours after the test to have another set of pictures
How It Feels
The cardiac scanning test itself is painless.
- You may feel a brief stinging or burning
sensation when the needle is inserted into the vein in your
- 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 (angina). These symptoms only last a few
- 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.