Pharmacologic Nuclear Stress Test

This procedure assesses how well blood is flowing to your heart muscle and also how well the walls of your heart are moving and, thus, pumping the blood. Blood vessels of the heart are best studied by watching the changes in blood flow to the heart due to exercise. In the event you may not be able to physically perform a stress test on a treadmill, your doctor may order a chemically induced stress test.


  • Do not eat or drink for 4 hours prior to your study (water is allowed).
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment with an order/prescription if your doctor has given one to you.
  • NO caffeine products for 12 hours before your exam. Do not drink decaf products such as coffee, tea (even herbal), cocoa, soft drinks or eat chocolate.
    • For Macomb patients: No caffeine products for 24 hours before your exam, including no decaf products.
  • Do not smoke cigarettes or cigars or chew tobacco for at least 24 hours before your exam.
  • Ask your doctor if you should stop taking any medication before the exam. Taking certain medications the day of the exam can alter the results.
  • Bring a list of all medications that you take.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and loose-fitting clothes. Do not apply any creams, lotion or powder to your chest area on the day of your exam.


  • Upon arrival in the department, a nuclear medicine technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm.
  • You will then be injected with a radioactive tracer which allows the technologist to obtain images of your heart. After a waiting period you will be have images of your heart. These first images represent the blood flow to your heart at rest and usually take up to 25 minutes under the gamma camera.
  • Next, you will undergo a stress test either by walking on a treadmill or by chemically inducing the stress test if you are unable to physically exert yourself. This decision is made by your doctor.
  • During the stress test, your heart is monitored by placing electrodes on your chest. The electrical activity of your heart is monitored on an EKG machine by the cardiovascular personnel. Toward the end of the stress test you will be given a second dose of radioactive tracer.
  • After the stress test you will undergo a second set of images called the stress images. This is the final part of the test and requires you to lay under the camera for up to 25 additional minutes.
  • The combined steps of this procedure take 3 ½ to 4 hours.

After the procedure

  • After the test you can go home and resume normal activities, assuming you feel well. If you feel dizzy, weak or are having any chest discomfort, contact your doctor immediately.
  • For test results, contact ordering doctor.


  • Tell the technologist if you are planning to travel out of the country.
  • If you are pregnant or suspect you may be, contact your referring doctor.
  • For Macomb patients: Please note that our Nuclear Medicine equipment has a table weight limit of 500 lbs.
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