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Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) or Cardiolite Stress Test

The myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) or Cardiolite stress test is a diagnostic exam used to determine if your heart muscle is getting the blood supply it needs. The exam involves two distinct set of images taken at rest and then again after "stress." For this test, you will be required to walk on a treadmill, and for patients who are unable to use the treadmill, there is a medication which mimics the effects of exercise on our hearts called Persantine.

Your physician will order this test for the following reasons:

  • Diagnosing the presence or extent of coronary artery disease (CAD), especially for patients with diabetes;
  • Follow up to a  positive cardiac stress test, with or without symptoms
  • To rule out a myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Assessing the blood flow through the coronary blood vessels (arteries of the heart) before and/or after bypass, grafts or angioplasty
  • Assessing the heart condition in patients with risk factors for heart disease, such as family history, smoking, obesity, diabetes, undiagnosed chest pain, and/or positive stress test.
  • Completing a heart "risk assessment" before surgery and as a follow up after cardiac surgery

Click here to view the myocardial perfusion imaging or Cardiolite stress test brochure.

Location and Contact Information

To make a test appointment, please visit the Make an Appointment page.

Markham Site

We suggest parking in the main hospital parking lot, opposite the Link Lobby Entrance and Medical Office Building, when visiting diagnostic services.

Please go to the central registration desk on the main floor of Building A, before heading to diagnostic services on the second floor in Building B where you'll be directed to the designated waiting room.

For more information on parking, please click here.

Care Providers

There are two parts to a myocardial perfusion test.  The scan part is performed by a nuclear medicine technologist.  The stress test part is performed by a cardiology technologist.  A  physician will supervise the stress component of the test.

What You Should Know

On the day of your cardiac stress test, please exclude caffeine products, alcohol and smoking. Caffeine products include: coffee and tea (decaffeinated and caffeinated), chocolate, cocoa, soda, pop and any medication or supplements that may have caffeine. If you are taking heart or blood pressure medications, check with your physician whether you are to stop the medication before the test. 

Certain medications, such as "beta blockers", should be discontinued for a period of time before arriving for the test (normally 48 hours). Since every patient may be having this test for a different reason, you must confirm with your physician which medicine is appropriate and safe for you to stop before arriving for your heart test, as well as how long the medicine should be stopped.

If you are scheduled for a Persantine stress test, please stop taking Theophylline at your physician's request.

You must not have consumed any caffeine products for 24 hours before your test appointment, as this jeopardizes the quality of your test.  If you arrive having consumed caffeine products within 24 hours, your procedure will be cancelled and rescheduled to the next available routine booking date.  

Before Your Visit

Please do not engage in strenuous exercise (brisk walking or jogging) on the day of your test. We need you rested. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, short-sleeved exercise clothing (t-shirt and shorts or jogging pants) and rubber-soled shoes (running shoes). Do not wear a dress or skirt. Women should wear a bra for exercise. Please do not wear jewellery or perfume for your test.

You should not eat for three to four hours prior to the test; however water and juice are permitted before arriving.  If you are diabetic, you may have a light snack (toast and juice) two hours prior to your test if needed to stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Please arrive 30 minutes before your test to register at central registration desk in Building A. Please bring your health card and your requisition (if your doctor has provided you with one).

During Your Visit

You should allow four to five hours for your test.

During your test, we will insert an intravenous into your arm which will deliver an injection of Cardiolite (a radiopharmaceutical agent used in nuclear medicine for imaging procedures) before we scan you with a camera for 20 minutes. We will then accompany you to the cardiorespiratory stress lab for the stress portion of your test.

Our cardiology technologist will prepare you for your stress test. A physician will inject Cardiolite while you are on the treadmill. For a Persantine stress test, you will have the injection at rest. In both cases, you will then go to our nuclear medicine department for a scan, after the exercise Persantine portion of the test is complete.

After Your Visit

Please note that Persantine could cause headache or nausea and Cardiolite could result in a metallic taste in your mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the Cardiolite remain in my system? Your body will eliminate the Cardiolite after one or two days.
Why do I have to wait before the scan? This allows time for the Persantine or Cardiolite to perfuse into your system.
Why do I have to have an IV? It is easier to inject the Cardiolite while you are walking on the treadmill if it is done through an intravenous. It prevents you from having two separate injections.
How does the Cardiolite work? The Cardiolite binds itself to the red blood cells and is circulated to the heart. We take pictures to show if there are any occlusions (obstructions) in blood flow to the heart.
Why do I have to exercise with this test? The exercise stresses the heart so we can see if there are any changes that will indicate areas sensitive to stress.
Why do I have to sign a consent form? There are slight risks to this test and the consent form allows you to be treated should any problems occur during the test.
Is Cardiolite a dye? No, Cardiolite is a radioactive isotope. It is not a dye and does not have any side effects.
Can I travel after this test? If you are planning on travelling outside of the country within three days of the test, please let the technologist know. They will provide you with a letter that you can present at customs (airport security, borders, etc.).

Additional Resources

The Medical Imaging Team resources for patients and health care professionals - imagingteam.ca

Radiology information resources - radiologyinfo.org/

Heart & Stroke Foundation – heart disease risks and warning signs – heartandstroke.ca