Diagnostic nuclear imaging studies that use radioactive tracers, called Cardiolite® (for SPECT) and rubidium (for PET), to produce images of the heart muscle. When combined with stress, either through exercise or the use of a pharmacological agent, the nuclear scan helps determine if the heart muscle is getting the blood supply it needs. If you are unable to exercise, your doctor may order a pharmacologic stress test, with either regadenoson (Lexiscan ®) or dobutamine, to simulate exercise and obtain the same information as an exercise stress test.
As coronary artery disease (CAD) progresses, the heart muscle may not receive enough blood when under stress (for example, when exercising). This can result in chest pain called angina pectoris. On the other hand, there may be no outward physical signs of the disease. If CAD is limiting blood flow to part of your heart, the nuclear stress test may be useful in detecting the presence and significance of CAD.