Taking Care of Your Heart

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram:

What is a Dobutamine Stress Echo?

A dobutamine stress echocardiogram is a diagnostic procedure that may be used when a physician wants to assess the heart muscle under stress.


Before the Procedure

Your physician will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.

You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the test. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.

Notify the physician if you are allergic to or sensitive to medications or latex.

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your physician.

Notify your physician of all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.

Notify your physician if you have a pacemaker.


What happens during the test?

Generally, a dobutamine stress echocardiogram follows this process:

You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure. You may wear your glasses, dentures, or hearing aids if you use any of these. You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear. An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm prior to the procedure for injection of medication and to administer IV fluids, if needed. You will lie on your left side on a table or bed, but may be asked to change position during the procedure. You will be connected to an ECG monitor that records the electrical activity of the heart and monitors the heart during the procedure using small, adhesive electrodes. Your vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygenation level) will be monitored during the procedure. The ECG tracing that will record the electrical activity of the heart will be compared to the images displayed on the echocardiogram monitor. The room will be darkened so that the images on the echo monitor can be viewed by the technologist. The technologist will place gel on your chest and then place the transducer probe on the gel. You will feel a slight pressure as the technologist positions the transducer to get the desired image of your heart. The dobutamine infusion will begin at a rate determined by your weight. The rate of the infusion will be increased every few minutes until you have reached your target heart rate or until the maximum dose of dobutamine has been reached. The technologist will move the transducer probe around on your chest so that all areas and structures of your heart can be observed. Once you have reached your target heart rate or the maximum amount of the dobutamine, the medication will be stopped. Your heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, and echo will continue to be monitored for 10 to 15 minutes until they have returned to the baseline state. You should notify the technologist if you feel any chest pain, breathing difficulties, sweating, or heart palpitations. Once all the images have been taken, the technologist will wipe the gel from your chest, remove the ECG electrode pads, and remove the IV line. You may then put on your clothes.


How long does the test take?

The test will take about 30 to 45 minutes. It depends on how long it takes to reach the target heart rate.