A nuclear cardiologist uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and treat patients' heart problems non-invasively. This includes injecting an imaging agent into a patient's bloodstream and using specialized equipment, such as a gamma camera, to monitor a patient's heart at work and at rest. Alternately, a nuclear cardiologist may oversee this procedure as it is performed by a nuclear cardiology technician. The nuclear cardiologist then studies the resulting images, looking for anomalies in blood vessels or the heart muscle, and develops an appropriate treatment plan.
Nuclear cardiologists must have the medical knowledge and skills to recognize the need for cardiac tests, conduct nuclear imaging, and develop treatment plans. They must have strong communication skills to explain tests and their implications to patients and to consult with other doctors. Nuclear cardiologists also must demonstrate the necessary precision to administer radioactive materials and calibrate nuclear imaging equipment.