Myocardial perfusion stress tests are used to evaluate blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart. These tests can help determine if a person has coronary artery disease.
Someone with mild or moderate coronary artery disease might not experience any symptoms during normal activities. If that person becomes physically or emotionally stressed, however, the heart might demand more blood than the arteries are able to supply. This state can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath and other symptoms.
Myocardial perfusion stress tests consist of a rest and exercise portion. Images of the heart at rest are captured first by injecting a tracer and then waiting about 30 minutes to take the first set of images.
Next, a drug is injected that simulates the effects of exercise. Once the heart reaches a certain level, a second tracer is administered, and after allowing 15 to 30 minutes for circulation, a second set of images is captured. The entire test can take up to three hours to complete.