A cardiolite scan is a test that uses a radioactive substance known as a tracer to produce images of the heart muscle. When combined with an exercise test, the cardiolite scan helps determine whether areas of the heart are receiving enough blood. It is useful in diagnosing coronary heart disease and the presence of blockages in the coronary arteries.
What Does It Show?
During the test, a small amount of cardiolite tracer is injected into a vein in your arm while you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. The tracer travels in the bloodstream, is carried through the coronary arteries, and is picked up by the heart muscle cells.
Areas of the heart muscle that have an adequate blood supply pick up the tracer right away and more completely. Areas that do not have an adequate blood supply pick up the tracer very slowly or not at all.
You may also be connected to a holter monitor. This is used to record your heartbeat and determine if any palpitations occur. Electrodes are placed on the chest and record your heart’s electrical activities. If there are palpitations in your heartbeat, then your doctor may schedule a stress test to help determine the cause.
Preparing for the Stress Test
What Happens During the Test?
Either the exercise portion or the rest portion of the test may be done first. The doctor or technician will inform you whether the test can be completed in one day or two separate days.
Is the Test Safe?
The radiation exposure during a cardiolite scan is small and the doses used are safe. The exercise test is also safe.