The dipyridamole nuclear test is a means of testing the response of the heart to increase blood circulation caused by the intravenous introduction of a radioactive chemical into the bloodstream. An appropriate amount of the dipridamole in injected into the vein to stimulate the heart in just the same way as physical exercise does, thereby making it possible to assess the functioning of the blood vessels and valves of the heart under controlled conditions in a pathological laboratory.
The dipyridamole thallium stress test is conducted in order to detect any irregularities in the flow of blood to the heart, which may be caused by a blockage in the coronary arteries and be an early symptom of the possibility of cardiac arrest. It is also useful in evaluating the effectiveness of any heart care treatment that the patient may have already undergone and helps suggest the future course of action if the problem still persists.
Generally, the patient is asked not to consume medicines for hypertension and heart ailments on the day of the test. Patients of asthma and diabetes are advised to consult their physician before going in for this test. It is also recommended that you stop consuming alcohol, coffee, tea and cigarettes 24 hours in advance of the test. A light breakfast may be eaten on the day of the test, but the patient should stay on an empty stomach for at least 4 hours prior to the test. An hour before the test is conducted the patient should also stop drinking fluids. A minimum of 8 hours of sound sleep is required before the test for the patient to be in the perfect condition to be examined.
The actual procedure is not much different from an ordinary electrocardiograph test (ECG). A sonographer sticks electrode patches all over the chest and takes a reading of the hearts activity in a state of rest. After this, the dipyridamole injection is given and the activity of the heart is monitored. Once the medicine starts showing its effect, the "echo" readings are taken over a period of 60 minutes or so. The only side-effects are a mild headache, warm flushes and in a few cases, a feeling of nausea. You should report to the doctor immediately if you feel breathless or suffer from pain in the chest. After the readings are taken, the patient is asked to relax and drink some fruit juice or eat a few crackers.