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A cardiac perfusion scan measures the amount of blood in your heart muscle at rest and after your heart has been made to work hard. Either medicine or exercise can be used to stress the heart. This information is about using medicine for this test.
During the scan, a camera takes pictures of your heart after a radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. The tracer travels through the blood and into your heart. As the tracer moves through your heart, areas that have good blood flow absorb the tracer. Areas that don't absorb the tracer may not be getting enough blood or may have been damaged by a heart attack. The pictures show this difference.
Two sets of pictures may be made during the test. One set is taken while you are resting. Another set is taken after your heart has been made to work harder (called a stress test).
The test is often done to find out what may be causing chest pain or pressure. It may be done after a heart attack to see if areas of the heart are not getting enough blood or to find out how much your heart has been damaged from the heart attack.
Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your test. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the test and how soon to do it.
If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your test. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
Tell your doctor if you are taking any erection-enhancing medicines (such as Cialis, Levitra, or Viagra). You may need to take nitroglycerin during this test, which can cause a serious reaction if you have taken an erection-enhancing medicine within the previous 48 hours.
Do not have any caffeine, such as coffee or tea, for 24 hours before the test.
If you are breastfeeding, you may want to pump enough breast milk before the test to get through 1 to 2 days of feeding. The radioactive tracer used in this test can get into your breast milk and is not good for the baby.
The stress scan is done in two parts. In many hospitals, you first have the resting scan. You are then given a medicine that makes your heart work harder and you have another scan. Sometimes the stress scan is done first.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.
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Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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