Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

A Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE) is performed to assess your heart’s function and structure both at rest and under stress.

What is it?

Some heart symptoms or problems occur only during physical activity, especially aerobic style exercise which increases the blood supply to your heart. Your doctor or specialist may recommend a stress echocardiogram to check for any problems with your coronary arteries. The more common version of this procedure requires the patient to be monitored whilst exercising on a treadmill. For people who are unable to exercise, this alternative test simulates the effect of exercise on the heart muscle using the drug dobutamine.

Your cardiologist might order a dobutamine stress echocardiogram if you have mobility issues or are unable to exercise to help determine whether enough blood is getting to your heart and if the blood flow is restricted by narrow arteries.

  • Echocardiography is a type of ultrasound that does not use radiation or X-ray and carries no known adverse effects
  • Allow an hour from preparation through to post observation time for this test
  • You will be asked to undress to your waist (a gown can be provided) and lie on an examination bed
  • A cardiac sonographer will attach small metal disks (ECG electrodes) to your chest which will be used to monitor your heart rhythm during the test. An inflatable cuff will monitor your blood pressure throughout, and you will have a cannula inserted into your arm to administer the dobutamine.
  • The sonographer will conduct an ultrasound by applying cool gel on your skin and using a handheld wand (transducer) to send and receive waves from your heart to generate pictures. Your sonographer will provide instructions throughout the examination and may require you to hold your breath a few times
  • Dobutamine will be administered through the cannula in your arm and further ultrasound images recorded
  • Experienced medical staff are in attendance throughout your test to manage any rare complications.
Dobutamine stress echocardiogram

How should I prepare?

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, bearing in mind you will need to undress to the waist (you may request a gown if you like)

  2. Please bring a list of current medications with you

  3. You should consult your doctor prior to the test as they can advise if you should cease any of your regular medications for the echo (some can affect the accuracy of results)

What happens next?

One of our cardiologists may discuss your results with you when the test is complete, and a full report will be sent to your referring doctor.

Patient information

Click below to download patient information about dobutamine stress ECG
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