Nuclear Stress Test Vs. Stress Test

By Nathan Schwartz

Stress tests and nuclear stress tests are used by cardiologists to anaylze the health of your heart. Different tests are indicated depending upon the severity of the patient's cardiovascular condition.

Stress tests

A stress test examines the heart's ability to undergo work. Testing involves exercising on a treadmill with EKG monitoring.


A nuclear stress test is similar; however it has the ability to visualize the areas of decreased blood flow to the heart and visualize areas of the heart which may have undergone damage. The cardiologist takes the images during and after exercise with intravenous injection of radioactive dye.

Stress Test Advantages

A standard stress test is a less expensive option. The stress test is often all that is needed when there is no history of cardiovascular disease or the patient is being screened for low risk surgery.

Nuclear Stress Test Advantages

The nuclear stress test has a higher level of accuracy in determining cardiovascular disease. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, the nuclear stress test can use images to analyze damage.


Both stress tests and nuclear stress tests are generally deemed safe, and the radioactive dose in a nuclear test is small enough to be considered safe. A rare complication with nuclear stress tests versus a stress test is an allergic reaction to radioactive dye.

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