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Cardiolite stress test

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What is a cardiolite stress test?

A cardiolite stress test provides an accurate evaluation of the condition of your heart. The information helps your doctor decide what treatment is best for you.

The procedure combines a treadmill test with an imaging scan that uses a radioactive isotope called cardiolite. It is not a dye or drug. A special camera takes images of the cardiolite as it travels to your heart through the coronary arteries. The amount of radioactivity received from the cardiolite is equivalent to some x-ray procedures, such as barium enemas.

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Why do I need a cardiolite stress test?

This test will help your physician determine whether your coronary arteries have become narrowed or blocked as a result of coronary artery disease.

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How do I prepare for the test?

  • Do not use nicotine products or consume caffeine for 24 hours before the test.
  • Do not eat for two hours before the test. If you are diabetic, you may have clear liquids. You may return to your normal diet after the test.
  • You may drink water up until the time of the test.
  • You may continue taking your medications as prescribed.
  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit and supportive exercise shoes.

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What will happen on the day of the test?

When undergoing a cardiolite stress test, remember that the doctor performing the exam is also there to answer any questions you may have. During the test, the physician and technologists present will monitor your heart, using a machine called an electrocardiograph (EKG). Electrodes connected to the electrocardiograph machine will be placed on your chest to enable the monitoring.

The cardiolite stress test will take pictures of your heart both at rest and after exercising. Here's how it works:

  • The entire exam takes approximately three hours to complete.
  • A needle with a plastic tube attached to it, called an intravenous or IV line, will be inserted in your arm. Cardiolite will be administered directly through the IV line. You will be asked to sit in the waiting room for approximately 20 to 40 minutes. The IV line will be removed after the test is over and there will be no side effects.
  • You will be escorted to the camera area and asked to lie on a table with your left arm over your head. A special camera rotates around your chest to scan your heart and take images of the cardiolite as it is carried to your heart through the coronary arteries. These are called resting pictures and will be taken first.
  • After the resting pictures are done, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill. While you are on the treadmill, the doctor and technologist will frequently ask how you are feeling and how much longer you are able to walk.
  • When you and the doctor determine that you will need to stop walking in about a minute, a second dose of cardiolite will be injected into your IV line. You will continue to walk for one minute. The treadmill will be slowed to a stop and you will be assisted to a chair.
  • You will then be taken back to the camera area for a second set of images of your heart. These are called stress pictures.

By comparing the second set of pictures with those taken earlier, your medical team will be able to evaluate your condition. The results of your test will be mailed to your physician within 5 to 7 work days.

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Reducing your risk for heart disease

  • Don't smoke
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Reduce your intake of fats and cholesterol
  • Maintain your ideal weight
  • Exercise regularly according to your physician's guidelines


Our goal is to provide you with excellent care. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:
Janet Duval, RN, BSN
Manager, Non-invasive Cardiovascular Diagnostics

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