Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should I get a nuclear stress test?"
My doctor thinks my body has a hard time getting blood to my heart. What will a nuclear stress test show him about his suspicions?
A nuclear stress test is a type of stress test that can determine if an adequate amount of blood is reaching the heart muscle. This is a very common test that is often very helpful. If you have further questions, you may need to see a heart specialist (or a cardiologist). The heart is a muscle. As such, it requires a large amount of blood -- and it requires even more blood when working harder. If not enough blood is getting to the heart, the heart muscle cells can die -- this is known as a heart attack (or myocardial infarction). A stress test is a procedure in which doctor look at how the heart attacks when someone is exercising. Essentially what happens is that doctors see how the heart looks at rest and then when you are exercising. When exercising, the blood vessels that supply the heart should supply more blood -- if this doesn't happen then the doctor knows there are narrowings in these blood vessels. This narrowing is known as coronary artery disease -- and is very important because it means you are at risk for a heart attack. Heart attacks can be very serious, so knowing that you are at risk for them can be life saving. Talk to your doctor to learn more about whether a nuclear stress test is right for you.
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