Thallium Stress Test

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Hi friends. I am going to write about a THALLIUM STRESS TEST with a wish that it helps you who are 60 Plus. The reason which made me write this article is a young guy of 42 who is  the son of my friend,  collapsed. It brought back the memory  that I too had a heart attack when I was 43. Let me first clarify that I am not a medical professional.  I am a heart patient. I am advised to take my annual routine check-up which includes few blood tests and of course this THALLIUM STRESS TEST. The reader is advised to consult his doctor before making any decision.

First let me tell you what is a Thallium Stress Test-

A Thallium stress test is  conducted by nuclear imaging that shows how well blood flows into your heart while you’re exercising or at rest. You must have heard of Angiography. It’s a test to detect if there is any block in the artery but it does not show whether the heart muscles get enough blood supply.  Your doctor may order a thallium test if he suspects your heart isn’t getting enough blood flow when it’s under stress. He may do so when you have chest pain or worsening angina or if you’ve had a previous heart attack.

The thallium stress test can show the size of your heart chambers, how effectively your heart pumps, how well your coronary arteries supply blood to your heart.

I will try to write in brief how this test is performed-

Instructions were  given to me for the test which is as under-

i) I had to fast for 4 hours before the appointment at the hospital

ii) No tea, coffee, cola, chocolate or any caffeine containing food or medicine before 12 hours of test.

iii) No Beta Blocker, Calcium Channel blocker medicine for 48 hours before the test.

This test can only be performed in a hospital with a  nuclear imaging machine. It will take about 5 hours. A cardiologist will  be present throughout the procedure.

During the procedure, a liquid with a small amount of radioactivity is administered into one of your veins. It will flow through your bloodstream and end up in your heart.  You will be asked to take rest for about 30 minutes so the liquid flows to your heart. Then you lie down with your hands above your head and are advised not to move till the camera above you completes taking pictures. This will show the flow of blood in your resting period. Then since you have been fasting for more than 4 hours you will be given a break for snacks.  You are not allowed to have either tea of coffee till the test is completed.

Now after snacks you walk on a treadmill. Before climbing the treadmill a nurse sticks wires to take an ECG. Throughout the process your ECG will be taken.

First it will be slow but progressively the doctor will increase the pace into a jog while increasing inclination. I was told that if the patient does it for 3 minutes it is not good but if he does for 6minutes it is good and if he does for 9 minutes it’s better and if he can do for 12 minutes it’s the best.

Your blood pressure and heart rhythm are monitored while you exercise. You will be asked to get off the treadmill once your doctor finds your heart can’t take any more stress. After about 30 minutes you will be asked to lie down on an exam table again with your hands above your head and are advised not to move till the camera above you completes taking pictures. This will show the flow of blood after your exercising period.

Your doctor will compare these pictures with the set of resting images to evaluate how weak or strong the blood flow to your heart is.

I wrote this with an intention to inform readers who are not aware of this. Please consult your doctor and if he approves the test for you I think you should do it to check the condition of the heart.

Sunil Shah