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Nuclear Stress Test - Risks & Limitations

Are there any risks associated with nuclear stress tests?

The tests involves exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation you are exposed to during cardiac diagnostic tests is considered safe. The benefits of the test far outweigh any potential risks, and the technicians are trained to minimize your radiation exposure. For information on radiation safety, see National Institutes for Health Radiation Fact Sheet.

Does the nuclear stress test have any limitations?

If you are obese or have large breasts, the tissue may muffle the radioactive energy of the thallium or sestamibi, making it appear that it is not being absorbed as well, leading to a false positive—the tests detects a problem but in reality there is none. Some obese patients may be too heavy for the scanner table; the weight limit is about 300 pounds (lbs).


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