Winter 2009

Randolph Panetta, MD
Q: There is a history of heart disease in my family, and I am worried I’ll have a heart attack. My doctor has recommended a nuclear stress test. What’s the difference between a nuclear stress test and a regular stress test? Which is better?

Cardiologist Randolph Panetta, MD, responds:

A: In the last two decades, testing for heart disease has come a long way. There are many tests available today, and your or your doctor’s choice depends on your heart condition, your health history, your symptoms and other factors.

During an exercise stress test, the person being tested walks on a treadmill while hooked up to special equipment that monitors heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrical activity and how quickly the person is getting tired. It shows if the heart’s blood supply is sufficient and if the heart rhythm is normal.

The nuclear stress test your doctor is recommending is probably a sestamibi stress test (or MIBI scan). This type of test shows how well blood flows to the heart during exercise. During a nuclear stress test, the person being tested also walks on a treadmill. When he or she reaches his or her maximum level of exercise, a small amount of a radioactive substance (sestamibi) is injected into a vein and travels through the coronary arteries and into the heart. Then the patient lies down on a table under a special camera that can detect the radioactive material and take pictures of the arteries. These images can help provide more specific information than an exercise test alone. They can pinpoint the locations of blockages in the coronary arteries, determine the causes of chest pain and indicate how well the heart responds to exercise.

For people who aren’t comfortable with the treadmill component of these tests, there are medications that cause the heart to react as if it were being exercised on a treadmill or bicycle.

For an expert Bridgeport Hospital cardiologist, please call us toll free, 24/7, at 1-888-357-2396 or visit

Why You Should Choose a Bridgeport Hospital Cardiologist or Cardiovascular Surgeon

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rates the Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital BEST in Connecticut and among the TOP 5 out of 4,311 hospitals in the United States for heart attack survival.

This means that if you or a loved one is having a heart attack, you have the best chance of survival at Bridgeport Hospital. With more than 45 years of experience, the Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital is a nationally recognized provider of advanced cardiac care.

When choosing a cardiologist or cardiovascular surgeon be sure to select a physician affiliated with Bridgeport Hospital:

If you would like more information about, or a referral to, any of these expert physicians, please visit or call 1-888-357-2396, toll free, 24/7.

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