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What is a stress myocardial perfusion scan with medication?

A stress myocardial perfusion scan is used to assess the blood flow to the heart muscle (myocardium) when it is stressed by exercise or medication. A pharmacologic myocardial perfusion scan is used when the physician has determined that exercise on a treadmill is not an appropriate choice due to the person's medical condition. In this situation, a medication is given that causes the coronary arteries to dilate. This dilation of the coronary arteries increases blood flow and is very similar to the response of the arteries during exercise. The medication is injected into a vein in the arm or hand.

After a given period of time, the radionuclide (radioactive tracer) will be injected into a vein in the arm or hand. The gamma camera will take pictures of the heart while the person lies still on a table. A resting scan will be performed afterwards.

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