What are the risks of nuclear stress tests?


Quick Answer

The risks of a nuclear stress test include a flushing sensation or chest pain, allergic reaction to the radioactive dye injected into the vein of the hand or arm, abnormal heart rhythm and heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. Nuclear stress tests are generally considered safe, however, and complications are rare.

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Full Answer

During the test, an individual walks on a treadmill to get the blood pumping through the veins, explains MedlinePlus. During the treadmill part of the test, some people experience chest pain, fatigue, muscle cramps in the legs or feet, or shortness of breath. Rarely, people experience chest discomfort, dizziness or palpitations. Mayo Clinic states that the majority of unpleasant reactions should go away shortly after exercise stops or the medication wears off; however, these reactions should always be reported right away to the health care professional performing the test.

In order to minimize the potential for complications, an individual may be asked not to eat, drink or smoke for two hours before a nuclear stress test, notes Mayo Clinic. It's important to notify health care staff if an inhaler is used for breathing problems and bring it along to the test. Wearing comfortable clothes and walking shoes is also advised.

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