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"What is the thallium stress test?"


My dad has had mysterious / undiagnosable chest pain, and the doctor is planning to do a thallium stress test on him. What is involved in this procedure? How dangerous is it? What will it tell us?


It sounds like your dad's doctor wants to get a detailed look at your dad's heart. The thallium stress test is one method for examining the coronary arteries, the heart's blood supply. The best type of doctor to discuss this issue with is a cardiologist.

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If you dad is experiencing chest pain, then one of the diseases that must be examined is coronary artery disease (CAD). This disease is responsible for chest pain, heart attacks, and heart failure. In men in the United States, CAD is very common. Thus whenever someone presents with mysterious chest pain, the coronary arteries must be looked at. To do this, there are multiple different types of tests that could be administered. It appears that your father's doctor feels that the thallium stress test is the best test for this given his past medical history and symptoms. The thallium stress test is a type of nuclear stress test that examines areas of the heart that are deficient in blood flow. It is quite safe, and involves your dad receiving an injection of a couple drugs, and sitting under scanner for a few minutes. It will tell you if you dad need further testing or therapies such as coronary artery stents or bypass surgery.

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