What Is a Nuclear Stress Test?

A small amount of an imaging material is injected into the arm. This circulates throughout the system, providing a clearer picture of the blood flow through the arteries to the heart. Providers use this test to determine changes in flow from rest to exercise, if there is any coronary artery disease, how medications affect the heart and whether or not additional testing is required. 

What to Expect During the Test

The test is divided into two parts:

  • Resting imaging will be captured
  • The patient will then begin walking on a treadmill with speed and incline changes at specified intervals and once the heart rate has reached a predetermined level, the second imaging process will begin

Preparing for the Test

  • Do not eat or drink the following for 24 hours prior to testing:
  •   Coffee or tea of any kind including decaffeinated
  •   Colas, energy or other drinks containing caffeine
  •   Chocolates, including candies, frosting, cookies, pies, cocoa and chocolate milk
  •   Aspirin products that contain caffeine
  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least four hours before the test
  • Your provider may ask you to discontinue certain medications for the test
  • Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes
  • Let your provider know if you are pregnant, nursing or think you may be pregnant


Questions about your upcoming stress echocardiogram can be directed to Cardiac Management at 515-386-0469.