Preparing for your Cardiac Stress Test (Myocardial Perfusion Scan)

Patient preparation

Preparing for your Cardiac Stress Test (Myocardial Perfusion Scan)

Preparation Instructions

  • 1. If your test is scheduled before 12 noon, do not eat or drink anything past midnight.
    If your test is scheduled after 12 noon, you may have an early light breakfast (before 8 am).
  • 2. Ask your doctor which medicines you should take on the morning of the test.
    Take them with a small amount of water.
  • 3. Do not drink coffee, tea, and soda or eat chocolate for 12 hours before the test.
  • 4. The test takes a total of 3-4 hours. Bring a snack such as a bagel or donut.
  • 5. Wear comfortable clothing and sneakers or walking shoes.

Remember: You will be fasting before the test, which can take 3-4 hours, so bring a snack.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

A myocardial perfusion scan is a diagnostic exam that evaluates blood flow to your heart and shows how well the heart is able to pump blood. This test detects narrowing of the coronary arteries and estimates the strength of the your heart muscle.

Why did my doctor order this test?

The most common reasons why this test is ordered are:
  • You are having chest pain.
  • You are having shortness of breath.
  • You are scheduled for surgery.
  • Your doctor wants to know how well your heart medicines are working.
  • Your doctor noted a change in your electrocardiogram or EKG.
  • You had a heart attack, bypass operation and/or angioplasty.

How is this test performed?

A nurse will insert an IV and EKG leads will be attached to your chest. A small amount of radiopharmaceutical will be injected into your IV and after about a 10 minute waiting period, “resting” pictures of your heart will be taken. These pictures take about 15 minutes. Next, the cardiologist performs a stress test using either a treadmill or medicine. During the stress test, a second injection of radiopharmaceutical will be injected into your IV. After a delay of either 30 or 60 minutes (depending on whether the treadmill or medicine was used), a set of "stress" pictures of your heart will be taken.

What if I cannot walk on the treadmill?

The test will be performed using medicine instead of the treadmill.

What about radioactivity?

The amount of radiation is small, safe and comparable to other tests such as a CAT scan.

What about my medicines?

Ask your doctor whether or not you should take your medicines on the morning of the test.

What if I am a diabetic?

For the most part, you will not be taking your insulin or anti-glycemic medicines while fasting. You must ask your doctor.

Why can't I eat?

There are two reasons. First, eating may interfere with the quality of the pictures of the heart. Second, rarely people can get nauseated during the stress test and food can make this worse.

What if I have questions?

We have tried to answer many common questions, but you may still have questions about the test. The best person to talk with is the doctor that wanted you to have this test. Before the test is started you will also have time to have questions answered.

What if I need to reschedule my test?

Because the radiopharmaceuticals required for your test need to be ordered in advance, we request 24-hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your test. Please call us at 732-249-4410 to cancel your appointment.

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