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Why You Don’t Need a Nuclear Stress Test

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Oscilloscope used for Nuclear Stress Test

What is a Nuclear Stress Test?

The nuclear stress test is a cardiac diagnostic method that uses radioactive imaging. Its primary objective? To visualize how blood reaches the heart muscle during rest and activity.

The test occurs in multiple stages: 

  1. Introduction of the Tracer: An intravenous (IV) line is started, introducing a radioactive tracer into the bloodstream.
  2. Initial Imaging: After a brief waiting period, a specialized camera captures images of the heart, highlighting the tracer’s journey through the blood.
  3. Exercise Phase: Typically, the next step involves physical activity, like walking on a treadmill. The objective is to make the heart work harder. For those unable to exercise, medications might be used to simulate the heart’s response to exertion. Throughout, vital signs like blood pressure and heart rhythm are monitored.
  4. Secondary Imaging: Once the heart is sufficiently stressed, the radioactive tracer is reintroduced, followed by another round of imaging.
  5. Analysis: The test wraps up by comparing the two sets of images, offering insights into potential heart issues.

What Insights Does the Test Offer?

Though debated in its utility, the nuclear stress test claims to provide insights into the heart’s functioning. It seeks to:

  • Gauge blood flow to the heart muscles, attempting to differentiate between active and resting states.
  • Point out regions of the heart that might have incurred damage from previous cardiac events.
  • Highlight possible blockages or constrictions in arteries, suggesting potential concerns.

Why Do Some Opt for This Test?

While often spotlighted in conventional cardiac care, the nuclear stress test is a contentious topic at NHD. We NEVER order this test because of the radiation exposure (see below), but some physicians might recommend it when:

  • There are unexplained symptoms like unusual chest pain or breathlessness that demand diagnostic clarification.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of current heart treatments, such as stents or bypass procedures.
  • Monitoring patients with longstanding heart issues.
  • Nuclear imaging for when the baseline ECG is abnormal (opt for an echocardiogram). 

Another reason a cardiologist might select the nuclear stress test….it is a MASSIVE $$$$ stream. Trust me. I was involved in this scheme for over 10 years in the conventional cardiology group in Arizona. 

What Are the Risks of the Nuclear Stress Test?

The nuclear stress test is often presented as a beacon of diagnostic prowess in the medical world. However, it’s essential to cast a discerning eye and weigh the considerable risks that accompany this test:

  • Radiation Risks: One of the most alarming aspects of the nuclear stress test is the radiation exposure. For instance, a dual-isotope MPI stress test emits a whopping 25 mSv. To put this into perspective, this is the equivalent radiation of 1,250 chest X-rays! While the radioactive dye used is touted as safe and fleeting in the body, such high radiation levels are undeniably concerning.
  • False Flags and Oversights: The test isn’t foolproof. It can mislead in both directions: sounding unnecessary alarms with false positives or providing false reassurance with overlooked issues, potentially leaving underlying problems undetected.
  • The Illusion of Safety: As with any diagnostic tool, there’s a danger of misinterpretation. A test result deemed ‘normal’ could make some patients complacent about their heart health, inadvertently steering them into unhealthy habits and choices.
  • FDA Warnings: Back in 2013, the FDA issued a stark warning about the serious risk of heart attacks and even death associated with certain cardiac nuclear stress test drugs. This underpins the gravity of potential complications with this test.

Given these significant risks, one must  seriously question the need for this test. At NHD, we emphasize a cautious approach, advocating for safer, more holistic diagnostic tools and treatments.

And if you need imaging, go for the ultrasound. Do NOT be bullied. 

Next Steps: Is A Nuclear Stress Test Right for You?

Navigating the world of cardiac diagnostics can seem daunting. With an array of choices, determining the relevance of a nuclear stress test can be challenging, especially when your doctor tells you that you need it.

Our team is here to guide you if you’re standing at the crossroads of medical decisions. Schedule a consultation with our highly regarded health practitioners. Alternatively, opt for a complimentary chat with our seasoned health coaches, empowering you to make informed decisions about the nuclear stress test.


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He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

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About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

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Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

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We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

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Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.