Cardiac Perfusion Scan
Cardiac perfusion scans are usually safe. There is always a slight
chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of
radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the radiation is
usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.
The risk of exercise depends on the condition of your heart and
your general level of health. The risks include:
- An irregular heartbeat.
- Heart attack.
There is a slight risk that death may result if a heart attack occurs during
After the test
Call 911 or other emergency
services immediately if you develop:
Test results are usually available within 1
to 3 days.
A cardiac perfusion scan measures the amount of blood in your heart
muscle at rest and during exercise.
- Normal if radioactive tracer is evenly distributed throughout
your heart muscle.
- Abnormal if areas of abnormal tracer absorption are
present. This means some areas of heart muscle are not getting enough blood
(ischemia). This may mean that the heart has been damaged or that coronary artery
disease is present.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may
not be helpful include:
- A recent, serious
- Inflammation of the heart,
- Bruising of the heart muscle
- Weakening of the heart
- Stiffening of the heart muscle (myocardial
- A severely narrowed heart valve.
cardiac devices, such as a
- A condition that makes it difficult to exercise, such as lung
arthritis, or a neuromuscular
- Some medicines, such as dipyridamole (Persantine) and
electrolyte imbalances (especially calcium, potassium,
sodium, or magnesium).
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding (except in an
Test results may be difficult to interpret in scans done on women
with large breasts.
What To Think About
Stress testing using medicine may be done
instead of exercise stress testing for older adults and people with conditions
that may make exercise difficult, such as those who are
obese or those who have
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
peripheral arterial disease, spinal cord injury,
Other tests also may be done to evaluate your heart. To learn more, see:
Other Places To Get Help
American Heart Association (AHA)
|7272 Greenville Avenue
|Dallas, TX 75231
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
|P.O. Box 30105
|Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
- Diseases affecting the heart and circulation, such as heart
attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, and
heart problems present at birth (congenital heart diseases).
- Diseases that affect the lungs, such as asthma, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, sleep apnea, and
- Diseases that affect the blood, such as anemia,
hemochromatosis, hemophilia, thalassemia, and von Willebrand disease.