The dobutamine stress echo test involves the injection of a medication called dobutamine while you are
closely monitored. The medication stimulates your heart in a similar way as exercise.
Why is this test performed?
The test is used to evaluate your heart and valve function when you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or
Determine how well your heart tolerates activity
Determine your likelihood of having coronary artery disease
Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
Yes. However, DO NOT eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours
before the test.
Avoid caffeinated products (cola, Mountain Dew, chocolate products, coffee or tea) for 24 hours before the
, as caffeine will interfere with the results of the test. Also avoid decaffeinated or caffeine-free
, which contain trace amounts of caffeine.
DO NOT SMOKE ON THE DAY OF THE TEST
, as nicotine will interfere with the results of your test.
Should I take my medications before the test?
DO NOT take these heart medications for 24 hours before the test, unless your physician tells you otherwise, or if it is
needed to treat chest discomfort:
Beta blockers [for example: atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol),
Isosorbide dinitrate (for example: Dilatrate, Isordil, Sorbitrate)
Isosorbide mononitrate (for example: Ismo, Imdur, Monoket)
Nitroglycerin (for example: Minitran, Nitropatches, Nitrostat)
Your physician may also ask you to stop taking other heart medications on the day of your test.
Bring your medications with you the day of the test.
Since many over-the-counter medications contain caffeine (such as diet pills, No Doz, Excedrin and Anacin), DO
NOT take any over- the-counter medication that contains caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Ask your physician,
pharmacist or nurse if you have questions about other medications that may contain caffeine.
If you have any questions about your medications, ask your physician.
NOTE: Do not discontinue any medication without first talking with your physician
Guidelines for People with Diabetes
If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your physician what amount of your medication you should take
the day of the test. Often, your physician will tell you to take only half of your usual morning dose and to eat a light
If you take pills to control your blood sugar, do not take your medication until after the test is complete.
Do not take your diabetes medication and skip a meal before the test.
If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think
your blood sugar is low, tell the lab personnel immediately. Plan to eat and take your diabetes medication following
What should I wear on the day of the test?
You may wear anything you like. Before the test, you will change into a hospital gown. Please do not bring valuables
with you the day of the test. You will be given a locker to store your belongings during the test.
What happens during the test?
Your test will take place in the Echo Lab
. The testing area is supervised by a physician.
First, a cardiac sonographer will gently rub ten small areas on your chest and place electrodes (small, flat,
sticky patches) on these areas. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that
charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
An intravenous line (IV) will be inserted into a vein in your arm so the dobutamine medication can be
delivered directly into your bloodstream.
The sonographer will perform a resting EKG, measure your resting heart rate and take your blood pressure.
The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table so he or she can perform a resting
echocardiogram (also called an “echo”). An echocardiogram is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement
created from ultrasound vibrations echoed from the heart’s structures. The sonographer will place a wand
(called a transducer) on your chest to view an outline of the heart’s movement. Images will be taken
The physician or nurse will administer the dobutamine medication into the IV while the technician continues
The medication will cause your heart to react as if you were exercising: your heart rate will rise and you may
feel it beating more strongly. It may cause a warm, flushing feeling, and in some cases, a mild headache.
At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm or
jaw pain or discomfort, short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded or any other unusual symptoms.
The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the EKG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped.
The IV will be removed from your arm once the test is completed. Your heart rate should return to normal in
How long does the test take?
The appointment will take about 60 minutes. The actual infusion time is usually about 15 minutes. You should plan to
stay in the waiting room for at least 30 minutes after completing the procedure, or until all of the symptoms you
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