Your Cardiologist may order a Cardiac Stress Test as part of a cardiac evaluation, to get more information about how your heart performs. The most frequent reasons we order these tests are:
- Chest pain, pressure, or shortness of breath
- Fainting or collapsing
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Evaluation for certain types of high-risk surgery
- An abnormal ECG
There are several different types of stress tests we can order based on your medical history, anatomy and the imaging characteristics of your heart. One of these is a “nuclear” stress test. It involves using a special camera to take pictures of your heart, before and after stress. The “stress” may be exercise, or a medicine given in an “IV” to mimic the effects of exercise on your heart. The original type of camera was developed in the 1950s, and that technology has not changed much until just recently. The good news is the med center has a new camera that works faster, takes better pictures and uses less radiation.
The new camera is called an Ultrafast Gamma Camera. How much better is it than the old way? Scans using the old cameras usually take 10-30 minutes. Scans with the ultrafast camera usually take between 2-10 minutes. The pictures are taken while patients are in a seated position, so it’s more comfortable as well. The new camera also allows us to accommodate larger patients than with the older systems. The biggest advance is the quality of the pictures, and the ability to use much less radiation than the older cameras. The Ultrafast Gamma Camera is much more sensitive so it takes better images and uses one third less radiation than the older systems.
This is an excellent example of how we are using new technology to provide better, safer care to our patients.