Dobutamine Stress Echo
A dobutamine stress echocardiogram combines a stress test with an echocardiogram. A stress echocardiogram 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 Echocardiogram
- Do not eat or drink for 4 hours. If you have diabetes, let your doctor know since you may need special instructions.
- 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.
- Be sure to wear a 2-piece outfit. You will be asked to undress from the waist up.
- Before the test, details of the test and its risks and benefits will be explained to you. Plan to sign a consent form. If you have any questions, please ask.
What to Expect During Your Stress Test
When you arrive, you will remove your clothes from the waist up and change into a hospital gown. An IV (intravenous tube) will be placed into a vein in your arm. Sticky patches (electrodes) will be placed on your chest to watch your heartbeat.
First, you will have a resting echocardiogram. You will be asked to lie on an exam table. Gel will be applied to a small microphone-like device called a transducer. The sonographer then gently moves the transducer over the chest to capture images of the heart using ultrasound. 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 test, we keep a close eye on your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and symptoms. Some people feel chest pain, 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 sonographer 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 further tests.
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.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/17/2013
Copyright © 01/17/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6136
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