Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

Explanation of the Test

This test is done to observe the heart's response to an increase workload on the heart. Ten small pads (electrodes) will be placed on the chest to monitor your heart (chest hair will be shaved if necessary). and an intravenous line (I.V.) will be started in your arm.

A resting echocardiogram (ECHO) is then performed on your heart. A transducer, a microphone-like device, is placed against your chest, which sends out high frequency sound waves (ultrasound). These sound waves bounce off the heart and are received by the transducer. The sound waves, which cannot be heard, are used to form a picture of your heart as it beats that is then displayed on a TV monitor and recorded on videotape as well as paper to create a permanent record. The only discomfort you may feel is the bulk of the transducer being held against your chest since the sound waves themselves are not felt.

After the resting ECHO is complete, you will begin the stress portion of the test. In cases where patients cannot walk on a treadmill, a drug (Dobutamine) is injected through your I.V. site to simulate the effects of exercise on the heart. The drug will cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase and the heart to beat stronger. Your electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure will be measured throughout the test.

Additional ECHO images are then obtained during and after the infusion of Dobutamine. The test usually ends when sufficient information is obtained. At the end of the test, the doctor compares the resting images of the heart to the stress images. The I.V. and electrodes are then removed. After the test, you may return to your normal daily routine.


  • Do not eat a heavy meal within four hours of the test.
  • Do not smoke or have caffeine three hours prior to the test.
  • Do not take beta blocker-type medications the day of the test. Discuss what medications can be taken the day of the test with your physician
  • Bring a list of your current medications.

General Information

  • The test takes about one hour.
  • Any further questions about the test may be answered by your physician.
  • Results will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours from when the test is performed.
  • If you are unable to keep your appointment or will be late, please call the Heart Station at 773-665-3187 as far in advance as possible.
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