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What is a thallium stress test?

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Quick Answer

A thallium stress test is a nuclear imaging test that checks how well the heart functions during and after physical activity, according to Healthline. Doctors use the test to diagnose coronary artery disease, notes Drugs.com.

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Full Answer

During a thallium stress test, the provider inserts an intravenous line on one side of the elbow. He then injects a radiopharmaceutical medicine through the intravenous line, and the patient waits for 15 to 40 minutes, states Healthline. A special nuclear camera then scans the heart to show how the substance has travelled through the blood into the heart, indicates MedlinePlus.

To prepare for a thallium stress test, the patient should wear comfortable clothes and shoes for exercising. Additionally, he must fast after midnight and avoid caffeine and pain relievers 24 hours before the test, notes MedlinePlus. The doctor may inquire about the medications the individual is taking since some medications may interfere with the test results, states Healthline.

During the test, the patient may experience fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and muscle cramps in the feet or legs, states MedlinePlus. Results for a thallium stress test depend on the patient’s history of heart problems, age, and the reason for the test, indicates Healthline. Normal results mean that the blood is flowing normally, while abnormal results may show reduced blood supply to the heart, scarring heart muscles or presence of coronary artery disease.

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