Cardiology Associates of Frederick
Cardiologists located in Frederick, MD
Nuclear cardiology is an advanced type of imaging that reveals unique details about the flow of blood through your heart muscles. The board-certified team at Cardiology Associates of Frederick often combines nuclear cardiology with a stress test to accurately diagnose the cause of heart-related symptoms and determine your risk of having a heart attack. If you have chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call the office in Frederick, Maryland, or request an appointment online today.
Nuclear Cardiology Q & A
What is nuclear cardiology?
Nuclear cardiology is a type of diagnostic imaging that uses a small dose of radioactive substances called radiotracers or tracers. Your provider injects the tracers, which travel to your heart and are taken up by the muscles.
Then they take an image of your heart using a specialized type of scanning device called a gamma camera. These cameras can detect the energy that’s released from the tracers and translate it into images.
Nuclear cardiology produces unique information that’s not obtained from other types of cardiac imaging. For example, these images reveal the extent of the heart muscle receiving a limited supply of blood. This can show if you have a higher risk for a heart attack.
When might I need nuclear cardiology?
Nuclear cardiology reveals how well blood flows through your coronary arteries and heart muscles. Your provider may recommend nuclear testing to determine:
- If chest pain is caused by poor blood flow to heart muscles
- The areas of your heart that don’t get enough blood
- How well the heart muscles pump blood
- If you have blocked coronary arteries (coronary artery disease)
- If you have calcium deposits in your coronary arteries
- The extent of muscle damage after a heart attack
- If your current heart treatment is working
Nuclear cardiology is usually combined with a stress test to reveal blood flow through your heart muscles while you exercise. This type of test is called a nuclear stress test or myocardial perfusion testing.
What happens during a nuclear stress test?
Before your stress test, your provider injects radioactive tracers and takes a scan to show how well your heart muscles work while you rest. Then you take a stress test.
You may exercise on a treadmill to raise your heart rate or, if you can’t tolerate exercise, your provider can achieve the same results using medications. When your stress test is finished, you have another nuclear scan to reveal the blood flow through your heart when it’s forced to work harder.
Comparing the images before and after you exercise clearly shows whether your heart muscles get enough blood, the specific areas of the heart where blood flow is limited, and if you have dead areas of muscle. This information guides your diagnosis and informs future treatment decisions.
If you experience chest pain, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call Cardiology Associates of Frederick or use the online booking feature today.
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