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What is a cardiac PET exam?

A cardiac Position Emission Tomography (PET) exam is used by doctors to evaluate the health of your heart. People who receive this exam may have symptoms and/or risk factors for heart disease. The results of this exam will help your doctor determine if you should have follow-up treatment. If you are already being treated for a heart-related condition, the results of this exam can also be used to help your doctor manage your treatment.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease can be described as a narrowing of the vessels that supply blood to your heart. This narrowing can be caused by a build-up of plaque (fatty deposits). When this happens blood cannot flow through the vessels normally. Consequently, your heart may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs.

How is the procedure performed?

  • Trained medical personnel will be with you throughout the exam.
  • You will be asked questions about your medical history.
  • An IV line will be placed in your arm to allow administration of medication during the exam.
  • Small pads called electrodes will be placed on your chest so that the medical team can monitor your heart throughout the study.
  • You will be asked to lie on a scanning table made especially for the PET camera.
  • A small amount of a radiopharmaceutical will be given through your IV line that will allow the PET camera to take pictures of your heart.
  • The amount of radiation exposure you receive is considered safe by the National Council on Radiation Protection.
  • A PET camera will take pictures of your heart in two phases: a resting phase and a stress phase. The order in which these phases occur will be determined by your doctor.
  • These phases are then compared to allow for the assessment of blood flow through your heart and/or to look for prior damage to the heart muscle.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

You should ask your doctor and follow his/her advice about directions regarding your preparation for the exam.

Here are a few general guidelines:

  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for a period of 6 hours before your test.
  • You may be asked not to have any caffeine/nicotine products for at least 12-24hours before your exam.
  • You may be asked not to take certain medications before the exam. It is very important that you check with your doctor BEFORE discontinuing any medications.
  • You may be asked if you have any allergies.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Bring a list of all your medications with you to the exam.

What can I expect from the stress portion of the procedure?

  • The stress phase of the exam is usually performed with a pharmaceutical that makes you heart feel like it is exercising.
  • This pharmaceutical is given through the IV line while an electrocardiogram (ECG) is performed to monitor your heart.
  • It is important to let the healthcare professional know if you are having any symptoms during the test to allow them to better assess when to stop the test.
  • You may experience chest pain, palpitations, headache or a flushing feeling during the test. You may also feel short of breath.
  • Remember, tell the healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms.

Is there important safety information I should know about a cardiac PET exam?

Only a doctor can decide if a cardiac PET exam is right for you. Special precautions may be take for patients with the following conditions:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma or lung disease
  • Female patients who are pregnant, nursing or think they may be pregnant
  • Patients who have recently suffered from a heart attack or stroke
  • Patients allergic to caffeine, theophylline, aminophylline or dipyridamole

If it important that you discuss the medications you are taking with the medical personnel performing your exam.

Always inform you healthcare provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing before, during and after the exam.

Your Test Results

Our Office nurse will contact you with your test results by phone; Or your Cardiologist will discuss the test results with you during a future office visit.

The test results help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that’s best for you.