Center for Heart & Vascualr Health

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

A Dobutamine stress echocardiogram combines an ultrasound study of the heart with the injection of the drug Dobutamine to learn how the heart functions when under stress (similar to exercise). This test helps show areas of the heart that are not getting enough blood.

During an echocardiogram, a transducer (a small microphone-like device) is held against your chest and takes pictures of your heart. These pictures can be recorded on videotape or printed on paper.

Preparing for a Dobutamine stress echocardiogram

  • The test will take two hours.
  • Do not eat or drink anything with caffeine for 24 hours before the test. This includes coffee, cola, tea, chocolate milk, chocolate pudding and chocolate candy. It also includes decaffeinated coffee, cola and tea, because these products still contain some caffeine.
  • If your test is scheduled before noon, do not eat anything after midnight the night before. If your test is scheduled in the afternoon, do not eat or drink anything after you eat breakfast on the day of the test. If you are diabetic, you may have toast, cereal or graham crackers two hours before the test.
  • Remain on your medications unless your doctor has told you otherwise. Bring a list of these medications with you.
  • We will need to know your weight before the test.
  • An IV will be started for this procedure.

Before the test

  • You will be asked to sign a consent form giving permission to do the test.
  • An IV will be put into your arm.
  • Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate.
  • A cuff will be put on your arm to check your blood pressure.

During the test

  • A baseline heart rate and blood pressure recording will be done. Then, an echocardiogram at rest will be done.
  • Dobutamine will be put into your IV in several stages over 20 minutes, and an echocardiogram will be done. Your heart rate and blood pressure will increase, and you may feel pounding in your chest, warmth in your body, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, headache, chest discomfort or nausea. Tell the doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
  • When your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal, another echocardiogram will be done. The doctor can compare the two sets of images (before and after Dobutamine) to see how your heart responds to stress.

After the test

  • The Dobutamine has no lasting effects in your body.
  • The doctor will talk with you about the test results.

To schedule an appointment, contact the location most convenient to you.