Who should have a PET scan?

Only a doctor can decide if a PET scan is the right test for a particular patient. Those who are interested in PET as an alternative to some other heart test, such as stress testing or cardiac catheterization, should talk to their doctor.

Should I be concerned about the radioactive substance used in the cardiac PET test?

All of the radioactive atoms in the substance decay and are therefore absent from the body before the end of, or within a very short time after, the test. Before they decay, they emit only a very low dose of radiation.

Does the stress-inducing medication used in the cardiac PET test cause side effects?

Widely used for more than 10 years, this medication produces an effect on the heart similar to that of routine exercise. Occasionally, patients experience mild side effects, such as flushing, headache, or chest pressure, which last only a few minutes. The side effects can be reversed either by stopping the stress test or by giving an antidote. In addition to being extremely rare, more serious side effects can be rapidly addressed by the experienced physician who is supervising the test.

Is cardiac PET as safe as everyone says?

Absolutely. The PET stress test is as safe as other routine cardiac exercise and pharmacological stress tests. However, as with all of these types of procedures, there is always a very small risk of complications. Most often, short-lived flushing and/or headache can occur, with serious events being extremely rare. You will have a full explanation of risks from a physician before having the test.

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