Myocardial perfusion scan

Learn more about a myocardial perfusion scan (also called a nuclear stress test) including what to expect and how to prepare.


Myocardial perfusion is an imaging test. It's also called a nuclear stress test. It shows how well blood flows through the heart muscle. It also shows how well the heart muscle is pumping. 

After a heart attack, doctors may perform tests to identify areas of damaged heart muscle. You may do this test during rest and while exercising.

Preparing for the test

Please tell us if you are you allergic to latex or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. For 24 hours before the test, do not eat or drink anything that has caffeine. You can have caffeine again after your test.

Do not eat or drink:

  • coffee and tea
  • decaffeinated coffee and tea
  • energy drinks
  • chocolate
  • cola (Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper)
  • all soft drinks except 7UP and ginger ale

Take the day of your test off work

If you feel well enough, you can drive yourself to the hospital. You will be able to drive yourself home afterwards. If your test result is not normal, you might not go home right away. We may send you for follow up to the Emergency room, or a heart clinic.

The 4 hours before your appointment time

  • Do not eat or drink anything.
  • If you need to take regular medicine(s) directed by your doctor during these 4 hours, take your medicine with little sips of water. If you take any medicine before your appointment, please bring us a list of what you have taken.
  • If you are diabetic and need to eat during these 4 hours, take your medicines and eat just enough to manage your blood sugar. Do not eat or drink anything with caffeine.

On the day of the test

Arrive 10 minutes before your appointment time. Please check in with the receptionist when you arrive.

Please do not wear perfume, cologne, or aftershave to your appointment. Some people are allergic to fragrance ingredients and can suffer severe reactions.

Please bring:

  • Any prescription medicine you are taking in the original containers
  • Two snacks, or money to buy snacks
  • Photo identification
  • BC Services Card (personal health number)
  • A book or another way to pass the time during your appointment

Wear loose, comfortable clothing with no zippers or metal buttons. We will inject medicine into your arm, so please wear a shirt with short sleeves. Do not bring your children with you unless you bring someone to care for them while you are having the test. If the symptoms that brought you to Emergency today come back before your appointment, call 911. You can also go to your nearest Emergency Department.

During the test

The test time is about 4 to 8 hours and is divided into two parts.

After the test

There are no side effects from the tracer. You may feel tired after this test. Call your family doctor if you have any concerns or questions. If you are planning to travel within three days of this test, please tell the Nuclear Medicine receptionist. We will give you a letter that says you have been given a small amount of radioactive tracer.

After completing the test, we will send your test results to your doctor within five working days. If your doctor does not have your results within two weeks, please ask them to contact us.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344,62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.


Nuclear Medicine Department
2nd Floor, Providence Wing, St. Paul’s Hospital

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