The Cardiolite Treadmill Stress Test with Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) is an exercise based heart test that can be done in conjunction with nuclear imaging to increase the sensitivity (accuracy) of the test. This stress test uses a short-lived radioactive material, which along with computer imaging will help highlight any severely diseased blood vessels that may be causing diminished blood flow to your heart.
The additional imaging added to a stress test is particularly beneficial for women undergoing exercise tests, as women are more likely to have EKG abnormalities that are benign. Nuclear or echo (ultrasound) pictures will better help the physician determine whether changes on your EKG are stemming from heart disease, or a heart-related cause of symptoms, such as shortness of breath or chest or upper back pain.
Cardiolite Stress Test Procedure
- An exercise technician will place electrodes (small adhesive patches) on your chest, wrists and ankles. A belt will be wrapped around your waist, which has lead wires that will be connected to the skin electrodes.
- You will lie down on your back for a few minutes while electrocardiograms (EKG) and a blood pressure are obtained. You will have an additional EKG and blood pressure measurement taken while standing. These initial steps are taken to ensure there are no significant abnormalities that would prevent your test from being done.
- An intravenous (IV) line will be started to allow the technician to later inject Cardiolite while you are walking on the treadmill. Cardiolite is a radioactive tracer used for computer imaging of your heart, which will be taken approximately 30 - 60 minutes after the exercise portion of your test. Cardiolite is not a drug or dye and causes no known side effects or symptoms.
- Since the injection of Cardiolite exposes you to a small amount of radiation, you will need to have a blood test to rule out pregnancy before your stress test, unless you have been post-menopausal for at least two years or have had a hysterectomy.
- You will be asked to walk on a treadmill for approximately 5 - 15 minutes. The test begins slowly and increases gradually in speed and incline every two to three minutes. During this time, your heart rate, blood pressure and EKG will be monitored.
- Your responsibility is to exercise to the best of your ability (it is not an absolute maximum effort but should be a level higher than you would typically perform at home). When you are near the desired heart rate range (pre-determined by age), the Cardiolite dose will be given through your IV.
- You should inform the test supervisor of any developing symptoms (leg pain, chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath). If there are any abnormal responses the test can be stopped.
- A minimum six-minute recovery period is then done as a cool-down with continued heart rate, blood pressure and EKG monitoring. As soon as these measurements are close to your initial or resting values, you will be disconnected from the monitor.
- The exercise technician will give you preliminary results for the walking part of your test.
- Approximately 30 - 60 minutes after the exercise portion of your test, you will be take to the Nuclear Medicine department for a series of pictures of your heart. You will lie on your back with your arms over your head for 15 - 20 minutes. You may also be asked to lie on your stomach for an additional 15 - 20 minutes for a second set of pictures.
- Typically, you will return within 2 - 3 days for another set of nuclear images. These will be taken approximately 30 - 60 minutes after an injection of Cardiolite.
- A cardiologist and a nuclear medicine physician will review the test and interpret it for your follow-up visit or for forwarding to your referring physician.