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Question:

Is it possible to have a blockage even after "good" test results?

Is it possible to still have a blockage after a Nuclear Stress Test? Results were good.

submitted by Angela from Albany, Georgia on 8/27/2012

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Warren H. Moore, MD  

Warren H. Moore, MDThe simple answer to this question is "Yes."

To go a bit further, the question is, "How sensitive is this test for finding coronary artery blockages?"  The answer to that varies with exactly what test was done and exactly what each individual patient's risk factors (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) are, and what the exact outcome of the test was. The good news is that, in general, the test will find the abnormality in 75-90% of patients with significant blockages. While this is not 100%, it is still higher than many other tests.

The better news is that for those patients that do have a blockage that is not detected by the test, they still tend to do very well in terms of not having serious heart problems over the next couple of years. This is commonly referred to in the medical literature as having a good "prognosis."

So, while a normal nuclear stress test is not a guarantee that there is no coronary artery blockage, patients with normal tests are generally at low risk for heart attacks and other problems related to any blockage that does exist.   

Warren Moore, MD
Chief, Nuclear Medicine Service  

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Updated August 2012
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