Chemicals in Heart Stress Tests Can Trigger Heart Attacks

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The FDA has issued a warning to doctors about two chemicals that are used for cardiovascular stress tests may cause heart attacks. According to the FDA, resuscitation equipment should be available when the tests are administered.

Lexiscan and Adenoscan are injectable chemicals that stress the heart and increase blood flow. This allows doctors to create images of the heart that highlight the areas that have low blood flow and may be damaged. However, the FDA says that while the chemicals dilate the heart’s arteries and increase blood flow, the increase in blood often only goes to healthy arteries and results in lower blood flow in arteries that are obstructed. In some cases, this can actually trigger heart attacks.

The FDA had placed Lexiscan and Adenoscan on a list of drugs to monitor earlier in the year after deaths were reported to the FDA’s adverse event database. Now, the FDA is added use recommendations to the drug’s labels, which say they should not be used in patients with symptoms of cardiovascular instability. The labels previously had a warning for possible risk of heart attacks.