Cardiac Stress Tests at Jupiter Medical Center

Stress tests are a common test used to evaluate the heart, or more specifically, how the heart performs when it’s working hard.

Doctors use stress tests to assess a wide range of potential heart problems, including irregular heartbeat, angina (chest pain) or shortness of breath. A stress test may be ordered if you have been diagnosed with heart disease or have had heart surgery and your physician wants to evaluate your current heart health.

Jupiter Medical Center Cardiology Services offers diagnostic testing in a hospital setting where patients receive care in private testing rooms. A cardiologist and registered nurse are in attendance for all tests.

What are the Different Types of Cardiac Stress Tests?

There are several types of stress tests your physician may want you to have. Your doctor will discuss which test is the best for you.

Exercise stress test: During exercise stress testing, you will walk or run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike to progressively make your heart work harder. During the test, your heart’s electrical activity is measured using an electrocardiogram (ECG), and you will be monitored afterward as your heart rate returns to normal.

By evaluating how your heart responds to being “stressed” by exercise, your doctor can determine if you may have problems with blood flow in the heart, such as blockages or a narrowing of the arteries caused by the buildup of plaque. Plaque, a hallmark of coronary artery disease, can lead to symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue with activity. If a stress test indicates you may have coronary artery disease, follow-up testing may be needed.

A stress test can also determine what level of exercise is safest for you. Exercise stress tests can also be combined with heart imaging, such as an echocardiogram, to create pictures of the heart during exercise.

Pharmacological stress test: Some conditions may make it difficult to exercise to raise your heart rate high enough for an exercise stress test. Conditions such as arthritis, lung disease, or other orthopedic issues may prevent you from walking or pedaling vigorously enough to stress your heart.

If this is the case, your doctor may recommend a pharmacologic stress test that uses a medication to stimulate your heart. Jupiter Medical Center performs pharmacological stress tests using dobutamine, which mimics the effect of exercise on the heart.

Nuclear Stress Test: Nuclear stress tests use imaging technology and a “tracer” containing a very small amount of radioactive material injected into the veins to show how blood flows through the heart before, during and after exercise. The images can show coronary artery blockages, areas of damaged heart muscle, and the performance of previously placed stents to hold open coronary arteries.

What's the Difference Between an Exercise Stress Test and a Nuclear Stress Test?

A stress test that involves a treadmill or a stationary bike and an EKG to read your heart rhythm is known as an exercise stress test.

Nuclear stress tests use a radioactive tracer that's injected into the bloodstream via IV, along with imaging technology, such as an echocardiogram, to examine blood flow in the heart. Nuclear stress tests are also referred to as imaging stress tests or myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI).

Nuclear stress tests provide more information about the heart than an exercise stress test, and are often used to diagnose coronary artery disease, and can identify if there area areas of the heart not getting enough blood. Nuclear stress tests can also reveal the size and shape of the heart, and how well it's pumping blood.

Jupiter Medical Center offers nuclear stress tests under the care of the radiologists and nuclear medicine technologists in our nuclear medicine department. Nuclear stress tests at Jupiter Medical Center are performed using a single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) scan.

Cardiolite Stress Test at Jupiter Medical Center

Cardiolite is a radioactive tracer that is injected through an IV into a vein in your arm, and flows through the bloodstream to the heart, where it is taken up by the heart muscle cells. The areas of the heart that have adequate blood supply absorb the tracer quickly and more completely, whereas the areas that have blockages either don’t absorb the tracer or they do so slowly.

Cardiolite is not a medicine or a dye, and will not cause side effects or symptoms. The amount of radiation is very low, and it is gone by the next day.

The exam takes several hours. First, the tracer is administered. It takes time for the tracer to circulate to the heart, so expect to wait about 45 minutes or so. Then, images of your heart at rest are taken. Later, you will be asked to exercise on a treadmill or a stationary bike until you reach maximum exertion, and another scan will be taken.

Or, if an exercise stress test isn’t possible, you may be given an infusion of dobutamine to raise your heart rate.

Comprehensive Care for Your Heart

Jupiter Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Institute is one of Florida’s leading cardiovascular centers. Offering a full spectrum of screening and diagnostic testing, heart rhythm treatments, minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedures, cardiac surgery and rehabilitation, Jupiter Medical Center is your partner in heart health.

Jupiter Medical Center has earned chest pain certification from the Joint Commission, and our team includes many of our region’s most highly regarded cardiologists, electrophysiologists and surgeons. Contact us for more information at (561) 263-3078.