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Dobutamine Stress Echo

A Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE) is a noninvasive test that involves a special heart stimulating medication, called Dobutamine, and an echocardiogram for patients unable to exercise on a treadmill.

Why is a DSE done?

A DSE is used to:

  • Evaluate your heart and valves.
  • Determine the likelihood of having coronary artery disease.
  • Evaluate the extent of coronary artery disease.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan.

Can I eat or drink before the test?

You may not eat or drink for four hours prior to the test. Also, make sure not to consume caffeine after midnight.

Should I take my medications?

You may take your prescribed medications the morning of the test with a sip of water. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking some heart medications prior to the test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin and food intake if you are diabetic. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your physician.

What else do I need to know?

  • Do not smoke for at least four hours prior to the test.
  • Do not apply lotions or powder to the chest area.

How is a DSE done?

A DSE is performed by a Stress Team composed of a cardiac sonographer, a cardiology nurse and a cardiovascular technician, with final diagnosis given by the interpreting cardiologist.

The test will take place in the Echo Lab Stress Room. Your medical history will be reviewed with the cardiology nurse. The nurse will explain the test in detail, answer any questions and you will be asked to sign a consent form.

The cardiovascular technician will then attach several EKG electrodes to your chest. In male patients chest hair may be partially shaved to ensure better contact with the skin. The electrodes will be attached to the EKG monitor, and a blood pressure cuff will be placed around your arm. Your blood pressure, heart rate and EKG will be closely monitored during the test.

Next, the cardiology nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. The cardiac sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on the exam table so a resting echocardiogram can be performed. A small amount of special contrast agent called Definity will be administered through your IV line by the cardiology nurse to enhance the images.

After the images are recorded, the nurse will start the infusion of Dobutamine. The Dobutamine dosage is determined by your weight. The initial dose is very small so you may not feel any effect for the first two or three minutes. The dose will be gradually increased every three minutes, and you will notice your heart beating faster and stronger. This is a normal reaction to the medication.

The sonographer will continue to perform an echocardiogram during the infusion of the Dobutamine. After your age determined target heart rate is achieved, the Dobutamine infusion will be stopped. Your heart rate, blood pressure and EKG will continue to be monitored for another 10-15 minutes. You will be able to return to your room or go home right after the test.

Does Dobutamine have any side effects?

You may experience a warm sensation, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath or may become jittery during the test. These symptoms will disappear shortly after the test.

How do I get the results?

A specially trained cardiologist will interpret the test and the final report will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will explain the results of the Dobutamine Stress ECHO to you.

If you have more questions about this test or other cardiac or vascular concerns, call 217-788-3705.