• This procedure shows how well blood flows to the heart muscle. It’s usually done along with an exercise stress test on a treadmill or bicycle.
  • It can determine the extent of damage from a coronary artery blockage, a prognosis of patients who’ve suffered a heart attack, the effectiveness of cardiac procedures done to improve circulation in coronary arteries, the cause(s) of chest pain, and the level of exercise that a patient can safely perform.
  • When the patient reaches their maximum level of exercise, a small amount of radioactive substance called thallium is injected into the bloodstream.
  • Then the patient lies down on a special table under a camera that can see the thallium and make pictures. The thallium mixes with blood in the bloodstream and heart’s arteries and enters heart muscle cells. If a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive a normal blood supply, less than a normal amount of thallium will be in those heart muscle cells.
  • The first pictures are made shortly after the exercise test and show blood flow to the heart during exercise. The heart is “stressed” during the exercise test. The patient then lies quietly for 2-3 hours and another series of pictures is made. These show blood flow to the heart muscle during rest.

For preparation instructions for this procedure, contact the Heart Center at Fairview Park Hospital.