Patient on heart monitor

At Twin Cities Hospital, we offer the following cardiovascular tests to aid in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disorders. Your physician will determine which test is most beneficial for you and your condition.

Nuclear Stress

A nuclear stress test uses radioactive dye and an imaging machine to create pictures showing the blood flow to your heart. The test measures blood flow while you are at rest and are exerting yourself, showing areas with poor blood flow or damage in your heart.

The test usually involves injecting radioactive dye, then taking two sets of images of your heart — one while you're at rest and another after exertion. A nuclear stress test is one of several types of stress tests that may be performed alone or in combination. Compared with an exercise stress test, a nuclear stress test can help better determine your risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event if your doctor knows or suspects that you have coronary artery disease.

You may need a nuclear stress test if a routine stress test didn't pinpoint the cause of symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. A nuclear stress test may also be used to guide your treatment if you've been diagnosed with a heart condition. Your doctor may recommend a nuclear stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease. Your coronary arteries are the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients. Coronary artery disease develops when these arteries become damaged or diseased — usually due to a buildup of deposits containing cholesterol and other substances (plaques).
    If you have symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, a nuclear stress test can help determine if you have coronary artery disease and how severe the condition is.
  • Guide treatment of heart disorders. If you've been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a nuclear stress test can help your doctor find out how well treatment is working. It may also be used to help establish the right treatment plan for you by determining how much exercise your heart can handle.

ECHO (ultrasound)

An echocardiogram (echo) is a graphic outline of the heart's movement. During an echo test, ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) from a hand-held wand placed on your chest provides pictures of the heart's valves and chambers and helps the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

Why is an echocardiogram performed?
The test is used to:

  • Assess the overall function of your heart
  • Determine the presence of many types of heart disease, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
  • Follow the progress of valve disease over time
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your medical or surgical treatments