Also part of the UPMC family:

Adenosine Stress Test

UPMC Content 2

You are scheduled to have an adenosine (uh-DEN-us-seen) stress test. This information will help you know what to expect. Please arrive for your test at the time your doctor’s office tells you.

What is an adenosine stress test?

Stress tests can help find heart blockages. For an exercise stress test, a person walks on a treadmill. While the person walks, doctors keep track of the heart’s activity. An isotope (EYE-suh-tope) may be given before and after exercise. An isotope is a radioactive material that helps make images of your heart. The images taken before exercise are called “resting images.” The ones taken after exercise are called “stress images.” Doctors compare the images to find problem areas.

Some people cannot walk for very long, so they may have an adenosine stress test instead. Adenosine is a drug that affects the heart like exercise would. Pictures are taken before and after this drug is given.

Adenosine is the most widely used drug for this test. But it is not recommended for everyone. Some testing centers may use a different drug.

Preparing for the test

  • You must check with your doctor about changes in your diet and medicines before your test.
  • Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before the test. You may have a small amount of water.
  • Do not have coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, or products that have caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Check over-the-counter medicines closely. Some, such as Anacin and Excedrin, may have caffeine.
  • Some medicines must be stopped before this test. Check with your doctor about this.
  • Bring your medicines with you. They can be taken after the stress part of the test.
  • If you take diabetes medicine, your doctor will need to change your schedule and dose for the day of the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Women should not wear all-in-one undergarments, girdles, or underwire bras. Both men and women should wear slacks.
  • Please tell your doctor if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

What happens during the test?

Your test will be done in 2 parts. The order may vary depending on where you have the test done.

During the test, a heart doctor (cardiologist), nuclear medicine technologist, and a nurse or EKG technician will be with you.


First, an IV (intravenous) line will be inserted in your arm. The adenosine and the isotope will be given through the IV during the stress part of the test. The isotope helps make pictures of your heart.
A nuclear camera will scan your heart. You will lie on a table for this. You will need to lie still while the camera takes pictures of your heart. Most testing centers use a camera that moves non-stop for about 20 minutes. Other centers use a camera that is positioned by hand. There may be a waiting period before and after your pictures are taken.

Stress test

After the pictures are taken, you will come to the stress test area. Here you will be connected to an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine. It will monitor your heart during the test.

The adenosine will be given through your IV. This is called an “infusion” (in-FEW-zhun). You will also receive the isotope, so more images can be made. During the infusion, you may feel some symptoms. You may have chest pain, flushing, or stomach discomfort. These will go away when the medicine is stopped. Tell the nurse or technologist if you have any of these symptoms.

The order in which the tests are done does not affect the results. The way you prepare for the test is the same for all procedures.

If you weigh more than 250 pounds, your test may be done over 2 days instead of 1 day. You will be told when to come for both parts of the test. Eating is only restricted before the stress portion of the test.

After the test

You can go back to your normal activities after the test. The results will be sent to your doctor. He or she will review the results with you.