How Long Does A Nuclear Stress Test Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 10 to 15 Minutes

A Nuclear Stress test is just like any other stress test with the difference that it uses a radioactive element as a tracer to achieve its objectives. Only a small amount of radioactive particles is used along with an imaging machine. The objective of this test is to generate images that show the flow of blood to the heart.

This test is particularly significant as it helps healthcare workers to determine the chances of heart attack or any other similar cardiac phenomenon. This test is greatly suggested to people with coronary artery disease. Scanner machines like Positron Emission Technology (abbreviated as PET) and Single Photo Emission Computed Tomography (abbreviated as SPECT).

How Long Does A Nuclear Stress Test Take

How Long Does A Nuclear Stress Test Take?

Steps In Taking Nuclear Stress TestTime
Taking Appointment 1 to 2 hours
Conducting the test10 to 15 minutes

The entire process of nuclear stress tests can be divided into two broad steps. These involve taking the appointment of the test from the healthcare personnel before the actual nuclear stress test. However, the results of the test could only be available after a few days of the test.

Taking an appointment for a test is the most time-consuming process. Usually, the patient has to go to the receptionist of the test center to get the test conducted. Moreover, since there may be various others patients at the test center to take the test, it takes nearly 1 to 2 hours.

However, in recent times, the appointments can be taken by the person by online means. This means that the appointment can be taken at a person’s convenience in no time.

Once a person gets the appointment, the actual test process does not that much longer. The doctor will take an image of the patient after administering them a radioactive tracer, and when the person is at rest. This takes only 2 to 3 minutes.

After taking an image at rest, the healthcare worker will ask the patient to exercise, or if they are unable to do so, will administer an injection. The injection will produce the same effect on the patient as an exercise would. The doctor will take an image after this stage and this step may take 8 to 10 minutes.

Why Does A Nuclear Stress Test Take So Long?

A nuclear stress test has great significance for the health of a person. It is of particular interest if the person experiences any signs of heart disease like chest discomfort or shortness of breath. Moreover, it gains paramount importance if a person already is diagnosed with a heart condition.

The Nuclear Stress Test is also helpful in the identification of Coronary Artery disease. When substances like plaques and cholesterol get deposited in the arteries, the arteries are adversely affected making them damaged. This leads to coronary artery disease.

If you have any heart problem, the nuclear stress test can play an instrumental role in helping healthcare workers in treating the diseases. It can help the doctor to assess how well the medications are working and what changes are ought to be working. It also helps in assessing the right time for exercise to keep the heart in a healthy position.

The nuclear stress test is not much risky but a few people do feel some harsh effects. One or two people had heart attacks after this test while a few others experience abnormal heart rhythm. Some people also feel chest irritation, dizziness, and low blood pressure.

Conclusion

A nuclear stress test also known by the names of myocardial perfusion imaging, cardiac PET, and cardiac SPECT is a test designed to help assess the blood flow in the body. This is of crucial use to treat and prevent heart attacks and other chest diseases. The entire test takes barely half an hour but taking the appointment of the tests is a herculean task that can take 2 to 3 hours.

Before taking the nuclear stress test, a person should enquire from a healthcare worker about taking their medications as the medications can potentially interfere with the test results. Moreover, the use of substances like caffeine and alcohol may be prohibited before the test.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02940016
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/409557

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