An exercise stress myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) test combines a treadmill stress test and using a radioactive dye injection with an imaging machine to produce pictures to assess the blood flow to your heart. 

What are the benefits of an exercise stress MPI test?

An exercise stress MPI test combines the benefits of both the standard treadmill test and a myocardial perfusion test. The main benefits of this test include: 

  1. 1
    Diagnose the presence of coronary artery disease
  • Detects heart artery blockages that can cause chest pain, breathlessness, heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
  1. 2
    Diagnosis of Heart rhythm disorders
  • Detects abnormal heart rhythms resulting in irregular heart beats or palpitations (Arrhythmias).
  • Identifies life-threatening heart rhythms brought on by exercise that can lead to sudden cardiac death.
  1. 3
    Guide treatment of heart disorders
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan.
  • Guides the development of a safe exercise program especially in patients who have heart disease or suffered a heart attack before.
  • Assesses viability of the heart muscle before deciding whether to proceed with angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery.

Who will benefit from this test?

  1. 1
    Patients with symptoms of:
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heart beats or palpitations
  • Recurrent giddiness or fainting spells
  1. 2
    Patients who are planning to participate in strenuous sporting activities.

How to prepare for the test

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

  • You may drink sips of water to help you swallow your medications.
  • Do not consume any food on the day of the test.
  • Do not consume any products containing caffeine for 24 hours before the test. In general, caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, mountain dew and other soft drinks as well as most chocolate products.
  • Do not smoke on the day of your test as nicotine will interfere with the results of your test.

Should I take medications on the day of the test?

You may consume your oral medications except:

  • If you take pills for your diabetes, do not take them until after the test is complete. If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your physician how much insulin you should take during the day of your test.
  • If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab personnel immediately. Plan to eat and take your blood sugar medication following your test.
  • If you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, please bring it along with you and highlight it to our cardiac technician & doctor.

It is essential to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant before undergoing this scan because of radiation exposure.

How is the test performed?

How long does the test take?

  • This procedure usually takes three to four hours to accomplish.
  • Your heart will be imaged twice, once before exercise and again shortly after exercise.
  • In order to visualize your heart under the imaging camera, an injection of a radioactive isotope will be given into a vein in your arm.
  • The exercise is accomplished via walking on a treadmill until your blood vessels dilate naturally or using a drug to pharmacologically dilate your blood vessels, thus simulating actual physical exercise.

How does the doctor use this test to treat me?

1. Normal test results

  • If the information gathered during the test reveals that your heart condition is normal, no further tests will be needed. However, if your test results are normal but your symptoms continue or becomes worse, our doctor may recommend further tests (eg a CT coronary angiogram or Coronary Angiogram) to gather more information about your heart condition.
  • If the purpose of your stress test was to guide treatment for a heart condition, our doctor will use data from the test to establish or modify your treatment plan, as needed.

2. Abnormal test results

  • If the results of your exercise stress echo suggest underlying blockages of the arteries of your heart or a heart rhythm irregularity, the information gathered during the test will be used to help our doctor develop a treatment plan. You may need additional tests and evaluations, such as a coronary angiogram, depending on the findings.

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