Exercise Cardiac Perfusion Imaging Stress Test (Cardiolite)

If there is a possibility of pregnancy, please inform the technologist prior to the date of your examination.

This type of exercise stress test is often done while you are walking on a treadmill. This test often takes two scans of your heart. A radioactive isotope (for example cardiolite) is given. This gives off a small amount of radiation that is found with a scanning camera. The first scan checks the blood flow to your heart muscle at rest. The second scan checks the blood flow to your heart muscle during exercise.

If you cannot walk on a treadmill, a medication will be injected to increase the blood flow thru the heart. This injection may cause a warm, flushing feeling. It is normal for your breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration to increase during the test. If you begin to notice chest discomfort or pain, headache, upset stomach, dizziness or other symptoms of concern such as excessive shortness of breath, please let the stress lab personnel know. The above symptoms are normal and go away typically within 3-4 minutes.

You are having this test because you may have had an abnormal result on one or more of your heart tests or signs or symptoms of a possible heart problem.

Difference between a One Day and a Two Day test

A one day test is designed for patients who weigh less than 220 lbs for females and 250 lbs for males. Patients who fall under this criteria will have both parts of the test (rest images and stress images) done on the same day approximately 2-3 hours apart.

The two day test is designed for patients who weigh more than 220 lbs for females and 250 lbs for males. Patients who fall under these criteria will have the rest images and stress images done on two separate days within 10 days of each other. This allows the isotope to diffuse through the body for better imaging.

What to expect

First Scan or Resting Portion

  • You will change into a patient gown.
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm.
  • A small amount of isotope will be injected into your IV. You will sit quietly for 45 minutes in a special waiting area.
  • Next you will be taken to the scanning area. You will lie quietly on your back with both arms above your head for about 15 minutes. If this position is difficult for you let the technician know.
  • A camera will move slowly over your chest during the scan.

Second Scan or Stress Portion

  • A technician will fill out a heart history form and have you sign a consent form.
  • Small sticky patches will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rhythm during the test. Any hair will be clipped before placing the patches.
  • You will begin walking slowly on the treadmill. The speed and incline will be gradually increased every two or three minutes. If you cannot walk on the treadmill you will be injected with a medication to increase blood flow thru the heart.
  • Your EKG and blood pressure are continuously monitored until you reach a target heart rate, become tired or develop symptoms. This will help determine when to inject the isotope.
  • After the isotope is injected into your IV, you will walk another minute to help the isotope flow to your heart muscle.
  • The treadmill will be slowed and stopped.
  • Next you will be taken back to the scanning area. Again, you will lie quietly on your back with both arms above your head for about 15 minutes.
  • A Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Respiratory Therapist and Physician are present for this part of the test.

The day before your test

Do not eat or drink anything except water or juice for 3 hours prior to the stress part of your test. You may eat lightly after the active part is done. No caffeine or decaffeinated products for 24 hours prior to your test. This includes coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and some medications such as headache and sinus medications. (Medications like Anacin, Cafergot, Synalgos, Excedrin, Darvon, Wigraine, No Doz, Florinal, Dexatrim.)

On the day of your exam

Wear loose fitting shorts or slacks and a pair of lightweight shoes, preferably tennis shoes for the exercise portion of the test. Do not apply creams, lotions, or powders to your chest area on the day of the test. Take your actual medications with you OR a complete and accurate list of all your medications. 

Please arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to allow for parking and registration. If you bring friends or family to the appointment they will be asked to have a seat in a waiting room during your test. Children cannot be left unattended during the test, so please arrange for a caregiver.


Our cardiologist will study your examination and a report will be forwarded to your practitioner, from whom you may obtain the results.

One Day Appointment Two Day Appointment
Rest & Stress Day
Rest Day
Stress Day

If you cannot keep your appointment please contact the radiology department at 608-342-4740 or if after 5 pm call 608-342-4745 and speak to a technologist.

Medication Instructions

_____ Do not take _______________________________ for 24 hours prior to the test (as directed by ordering MD).

_____ Take your medications as directed. (Confirmed with practitioner – staff to document any specific instructions)

_____ Other instructions:


Your procedure will be performed at Southwest Health at 1400 Eastside Road – Platteville, WI 53818. Please use the Main Hospital Entrance and check in at the Registration Desk prior to your scheduled procedure.

If you cannot keep your appointment please contact the radiology department at 608-342-4740 at least 34 hours in advance to eliminate medications ordered for this test. The radiology department will call you to verify your appointment the day before the test. If you cannot be reached before 10 pm the test will be canceled.

NOTE: It may take 2-3 days to obtain verification from your insurance company for exams that require prior authorization, such as CT, MRI, Nuclear Stress, Injections, etc.

I received these instructions on ____________________ Patient Signature____________________________________

Copied (x2) and Instructions Provided by:  _______________________________________ Signature of SH Staff