Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) or Cardiolite stress test

Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) or Cardiolite stress test

Location and Contact

Phone (patient scheduling office): 905-472-7020
When you arrive at Markham site: Register at the registration desk in the main lobby. The registration desk clerk will direct you to your test or procedure.

The myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) or Cardiolite stress test is a diagnostic exam used to evaluate the extent of blood supply your heart is getting. A radioactive injection called a radiopharmaceutical or tracer will be given to you at various stages of the exam and this is needed to create the images of the heart. This tracer only highlights the extent of blood flow to your heart; it does not interfere with how your heart works or change how you feel. During the examination, you will also complete a stress test by walking on a treadmill. If you cannot do this, a medication called Persantine will be given to mimic the effects of physical exertion on the heart. After the procedure is completed, the images will be evaluated by a cardiologist and radiologist and a report will be sent to your doctor.

To have an MPI/Cardiolite stress test, your doctor needs to fill out a requisition form. Download MPI/Cardiolite requisition form.

Learn more about making an appointment and coming to the Markham site.

There are two parts to an MPI test. The imaging scans are performed by a medical radiation technologist (MRT) specialized in nuclear medicine and the stress testing components are carried out by a cardiology technologist. A physician will supervise your care during the stress testing component. To learn more about these health professionals, see the websites for College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario – About MRTs and Canadian Society of Cardiology Technologists – What is a cardiology technologist.

Before your MPI/Cardiolite stress test

On the day of your cardiac stress test, please exclude alcohol and smoking.

We ask that you do not consume any caffeine products for 24 hours before your test appointment, as this may jeopardize the quality of your test or your test could be rescheduled. Caffeine products include: coffee and tea (decaffeinated and caffeinated), chocolate, cocoa, pop, energy drinks and any medication or supplements that may have caffeine. If you arrive having consumed caffeine products within the last 12 hours, your procedure will be cancelled and rescheduled to the next available routine booking date.

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.

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.

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.

Also, If you are planning to travel after completing this test, please discuss this with your technologist before completing your test. Radiation detectors have commonly been installed at airports and security checkpoints, and the tracer used for your nuclear medicine test may be detected by these monitors. If you are planning on travelling outside of the country within three days of the test, your technologist can provide you with a letter that you can present at customs (airport security, borders, etc.).

After your MPI/Cardiolite stress test

Please note, the medication that may be used during this test, called Persantine, could cause headache or nausea. 

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 need to have an IV?
    It is needed  to inject the Cardiolite while you are walking on the treadmill. It also prevents you from having two separate injections.
  • How does the Cardiolite work?
    The Cardiolite settles in the heart tissue according to the amount of blood flow delivered by the coronary arteries. We take pictures to show if there are any occlusions (blockages) in the blood vessels. 
  • Why do I have to exercise with this test?
    The exercise makes the heart work harder so we can see if the blood flow is impacted during stress.  
  • Why do I have to sign a consent form?
    There are slight risks to this test (i.e., exercise or exerting the heart) 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 tracer. It is not a dye and does not have any side effects. It is different than X-ray dye or contrast.