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Nuclear Cardiology Tests

Lee Health: Your Trusted Heart Specialists For Nuclear Cardiology Tests

Lee Health Cardiology specialists are here to help you understand your heart health. Through our Nuclear Cardiology tests we can help identify potential heart issues and help you develop your individualized treatment plan.

What are nuclear cardiology tests and what are they for?

Nuclear cardiology tests safely take pictures of the heart. During a nuclear cardiology test, we inject a small amount of radioactive die (tracer called radionuclide) into a vein. A special gamma camera then takes still images and movies of the heart during rest, exercise, or medication-induced stress testing.

These cardiac images help identify coronary heart disease (CAD), the severity of prior heart attacks, and the risk of future heart attacks. These highly accurate measurements of heart size and function enable cardiologists to better prescribe medications and select devices for optimal treatment outcomes.

The nuclear cardiology test may also be called:

  • Cardiac PET (positron emission tomography).
  • Cardiac SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography).
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI).
  • Nuclear stress test.

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Types of Nuclear Cardiac stress tests

Your Lee Health Cardiology provider can use two different imaging technologies for a nuclear cardiac stress test: cardiac PET or cardiac SPECT.

Another way a nuclear stress test can be classified is whether it involves physical activity or medication to stress the heart:

  • Exercise stress test: Your cardiology specialist will have you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike to increase blood flow to the heart and reach a target heart rate that is monitored using an electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • Pharmacologic stress test: Based on your individual situation, you receive medication to increase blood flow and stress the heart.

Nuclear cardiology tests are used to evaluate:

  • Heart function or how well your heart pumps blood
  • Blood flow to your heart muscle that can indicate muscle damage from a prior heart attack or other cause
  • Artery health including whether or not your arteries are narrowed or blocked from coronary artery disease
  • If you have heart disease or other coronary risk factors (high blood pressure, smoking history, diabetes, kidney disease, family history of a parent or sibling with heart disease; post-menopausal, high cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity or prominent belly fat).
  • Your treatment options based on your unique condition:
    • Medication
    • Heart catheterization
    • Angioplasy
    • Bypass surgery
    • Lifestyle intervention
  • The effectiveness of lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise), medications and / or treatments like angioplasty, stents and bypass surgery to improve blood flow to the heart muscle.

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Nuclear Cardiology Technology and Expertise at Lee Health

Lee Health provides a wide range of nuclear cardiology tests, including:

  • Myocardial perfusion tests are used to determine if you are at an increased risk for heart attack or if you may need heart surgery.
  • Ventricular function studies provide information on how well the heart is pumping.
  • PET scans provide gold standard information about the flow of blood through the coronary arteries leading to the heart, cardiac function, and viability assessment.
  • Resting myocardial perfusion scans, performed at rest, reveal areas of heart damage or acute reduction of heart muscle blood flow.
  • MUGA scans show how the heart wall moves and how much blood is expelled with each heart beat.

Who to contact

For questions related to cardiovascular care or services, email us at hearts@leehealth.org

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