Learn more about the Pharmacological Stress test here.
For patients unable to exercise, the doctor may request a Pharmacological stress test. This test gives the doctor the same information as a standard treadmill stress test without the need for exercise. This test uses a short-lived intravenous medication that causes the heart to react just as it would if the patient had exercised. It expands or dilates the coronary arteries and increases the amount of blood flow through the heart muscle.
Used in conjunction with computer imaging, this test reveals diseased blood vessels that might cause diminished blood flow to the heart. It helps determine if the patient has heart disease, provide the reasons for heart-related symptoms like shortness of breath or chest or upper back pain, indicate areas of the heart not receiving adequate blood and oxygen, and how quickly the heart recovers from exercise.
The patient should wear comfortable clothing and remove all jewelry before the test. If the patient might be pregnant, have a known allergy to Persantine, heart valve disease, a heart block, or heart attack, asthma, low blood pressure, or lung disease, please inform the doctor before scheduling this test.
The test is performed in multiple steps.
- An IV is set up. The patient is given an initial dose of the readioisotope through the IV, after which a scan is obtained. This scan demonstrates the flow of blood through the heart at rest.
- The patient is given a medication through an IV. This medicine dilates the blood vessels in the heart (coronary arteries). This is the same effect that would be seen if the patient were to exercise. Several minutes later, a radioisotope is given via the IV. The radioisotope enables the physician to know the pattern of blood flow through the heart.
- Any developing symptoms (headache, chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath) should be reported to the technician immediately. If there are any abnormal responses the test can be stopped and/or Aminophylline may be given.
- The patient rests for several minutes while the technician observes the EKG and the patient’s blood pressure. The patient is taken for a scan. The patient lies downs for 30 minutes. The scan displays areas with narrow or blocked vessels, or damaged heart muscle.