What is a radionuclide for assessing the heart?

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A radionuclide is a radioactive substance used as a "tracer," which means it travels through the bloodstream and is taken up (absorbed) by the healthy heart muscle tissue. There are different types of radionuclides.

When one type of radionuclide is used to diagnose heart disorders, areas of the myocardium that have blocked or partially blocked arteries will be seen on the scan as "cold spots," or "defects," because these areas will be unable to take the radionuclide into the myocardium.

Another type of radionuclide binds to the calcium that is released when a heart attack occurs, so it will accumulate in area(s) of injured heart tissue as a "hot spot" on the scan.