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Nuclear Cardiology

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.

Types of Nuclear Cardiology

Your Lee Health cardiology provider can use the cardiac SPECT technology for your imaging test. 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.

What Nuclear Cardiology Tests Assess:

Nuclear cardiology tests are valuable for understanding:

  • Heart Function: These tests help us gauge how effectively your heart pumps blood.

  • Blood Flow to the Heart Muscle: They reveal any damage to the heart muscle, whether it's from a prior heart attack or another cause.

  • Artery Health: They show whether your arteries are narrowed or blocked due to coronary artery disease.

  • Heart Disease Risk Factors: Nuclear cardiology tests are also used to evaluate your risk of heart disease based on factors like high blood pressure, smoking history, diabetes, kidney disease, family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity, or abdominal fat.

Determining the Right Treatment:

These tests are used to assess how well treatments like lifestyle changes, medications, angioplasty, stents, or bypass surgery improve blood flow to the heart muscle. This helps us ensure that the chosen treatment is effective in enhancing your heart health:

  • Medication: Based on the results, medication might be prescribed to manage your condition.

  • Heart Catheterization: In some cases, further evaluation through heart catheterization might be needed.

  • Angioplasty: This procedure can be recommended to open narrowed arteries.

  • Bypass Surgery: In more complex cases, bypass surgery might be the best treatment option.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Nuclear cardiology tests also guide recommendations for lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.

Cardiology Treatment Centers Near You

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Nuclear Cardiology Tests

The entire procedure takes approximately four hours. The test is done in two phases — rest and stress. The rest portion includes intake and preparation time including obtaining IV access followed by administration of isotope and a subsequent waiting period and imaging. The stress portion includes stress test preparation; the stress test itself followed by recovery time, imaging and proofing time.

Yes to both. You will receive a small amount of a radioactive isotope in order to assess the blood flow in the muscle of the heart. You will be radioactive for a short period of time but this is a safe procedure.

Caffeine is a stimulant and may skew your treadmill stress test results. Caffeine also blocks the pharmacologic stress agents used in nuclear medicine, which keeps them from working, therefore skewing the results of your test.

You will receive two doses of radioactive isotopes, one at rest and the other with stress. In some cases, the stress test is completed with a pharmacologic stress agent which also is administered via IV access too.

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.
  • MUGA scans show how the heart wall moves and how much blood is expelled with each heart beat.
  • Cardiac amyloidosis tests are essential for identifying the buildup of protein deposits around the heart, which can disrupt the heart's ability to pump effectively.

Who to contact?

For questions related to cardiovascular care or services, email us at [email protected]

Cardiology Specialists Serving Fort Myers and Cape Coral

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