A nuclear heart scan is a test that allows your doctor to get important information about the health of your heart.
During a nuclear heart scan, a safe, radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into your bloodstream through a vein. The tracer travels to your heart and releases energy. Special cameras outside of your body detect the energy and use it to create pictures of your heart.
Nuclear heart scans are used for three main purposes:
Usually, two sets of pictures are taken during a nuclear heart scan. The first set is taken right after a stress test, while your heart is beating fast.
During a stress test, you exercise to make your heart work hard and beat fast. If you can't exercise, you may be given medicine to increase your heart rate. This is called a pharmacological (FAR-ma-ko-LOJ-i-kal) stress test.
The second set of pictures is taken later, while your heart is at rest and beating at a normal rate.