Dobutamine Stress Echo
A dobutamine stress echocardiogram combines a stress test with an echocardiogram. A stress
echo allows us to learn more about how well your heart works when it is stressed. For people
who cannot walk adequately, we give a drug called dobutamine, which makes the heart work
harder and faster.
Getting Ready for a Dobutamine Stress Echo
ξ Do not eat or drink for 4 hours. If you have diabetes, let your doctor know since you may
need special instructions.
ξ If you take heart medicines, let your doctor know when you schedule the test. You may
be asked to stop taking some of these drugs ahead of time.
ξ Be sure to wear a 2-piece outfit. You will be asked to undress from the waist up.
ξ Before the test, details of the procedure and its risks and benefits will be explained to
you. Plan to sign a consent form. If you have ANY questions, please ask.
ξ The echo is very safe.
There are no known
ξ The dobutamine test has
a small amount of risk
because we stress the
heart. It is rare, but you
could have abnormal
heart rhythms, low blood
pressure, or a heart
ξ We try to determine if
you have any blockages
in your coronary arteries.
ξ Dobutamine helps us to
study your heart even if
you are not able to walk
on a treadmill.
ξ Your doctor is able to
make a more accurate
diagnosis and treatment
What to Expect During Your Dobutamine Stress Echo
When you arrive, you will remove your clothes from the waist up and change into a hospital
gown. An IV (a small intravenous tube) will be placed into a vein in your arm. Sticky patches
(electrodes) will be placed on your chest to monitor your heartbeat.
First, you will have a resting echo. You will be asked to lie on an exam table. Gel will be
applied to a small microphone-like device called a transducer. The technologist then gently
moves the transducer over the chest to capture images of the heart. You may notice these images
on a nearby screen. To improve the quality of the images, you may be asked to breathe slowly or
hold your breath.
Next, small amounts of dobutamine are given very slowly through the IV. As the drug is given,
it’s common to feel your heart pound. Throughout the procedure, we keep a close eye on your
heart rhythm, blood pressure, and symptoms. Some people feel chest discomfort, headache,
dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath. If you feel any of these symptoms, please let us know
right away. When the dobutamine is stopped, the symptoms go away quickly. In about 10
minutes, all of the dobutamine is out of your body.
While the drug is given, the technologist will record more images of your heart. The doctors
then compare the images to see how your heart works under stress. In a healthy heart, all areas
of the heart pump harder during stress. If an area of the heart does not pump as well during the
stress test, this tells us that there may be a narrowed or blocked artery preventing the heart
muscle from getting enough blood to function properly. If this is the case, you may need to have
Expect the entire test to take 1 hour.
Your doctor will receive a written report and talk with you about the final results.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7064.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©3/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6136.