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What is an Adenosine Nuclear Stress Test?

            Adenosine is a medicine that causes blood vessels to expand, especially those in the heart.  In this way it acts like exercise.  This medicine is used for patients who cannot use a treadmill but need a stress test.  It is always used together with a radioisotope to make a blood flow image of the heart (see Nuclear Stress Test).

What can I expect the day of my test?

  1. No food for 4 hours prior to the test
  2. No caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc.) for 24 hours prior to the test (caffeine causes the adenosine not to work)
  3. An intravenous catheter (a small tube) will be placed in a vein on your arm
  4. The radioisotope will injected at rest
  5. 45 to 60 minutes later a scan will be done of your heart (most often this will be done with you lying on your back with arms over your head under a detection camera, occasionally it is done sitting in a special chair),  the scan lasts 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Following the scan adhesive patches will be placed on your skin to monitor your electrocardiogram
  7. While lying supine the Adenosine will be injected through the intravenous catheter for 4 minutes
  8. 2 minutes after Adenosine is begun the radioisotope will be injected
  9. You may be asked to bend your arm up and down during the adenosine
  10. You may feel flushed or have shortness of breath, chest discomfort or a headache, these feelings stop 30 seconds after the adenosine is stopped
  11. 30 to 60 minutes later the scan is again performed, you may be asked to eat during this time
  12. Expect to be at the testing location for 3 hours


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