Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram combines a normal echo with a drug (dobutamine) which has similar effects to stress echocardiography which is an alternate way of stressing the heart for people who are unable to exercise on a treadmill.

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram indications are the same as Stress Echocardiogram, specifically for those with muscular skeletal limitations who are unable to exercise on a treadmill.

Here are a few other specific situations where a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram might be indicated:

  • Assessing Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): This test is useful for detecting and evaluating the severity of CAD, particularly in people who can't do a treadmill stress test.

  • Evaluating Heart Function: Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram can be used to assess heart function in patients with heart failure or other cardiac conditions.

  • Evaluating Chest Pain: If you have unexplained chest pain, or if pain is thought to be heart-related, this test may be used to determine the cause.

  • Checking the Effectiveness of Treatment: For patients who have undergone treatment for heart disease (like angioplasty, stenting, or bypass surgery), this test can be used to check the effectiveness of the treatment.

  • Preoperative Assessment: It can be used as part of a preoperative assessment in patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery, especially those with known CAD or multiple risk factors for CAD.

  • Determining Exercise Capacity: It helps determine exercise capacity and prognosis in patients with known cardiac disease, especially when a standard exercise test can

What is Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography?

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography is a heart test that combines a regular ultrasound of your heart with a drug called dobutamine. This test simulates the effects of exercise on your heart and blood circulation, making it ideal for those who cannot physically exercise due to health issues, joint problems, poor leg circulation, lung problems, or old age.

How is the Test Performed?

You'll be asked to lie on your left side on a couch for the test. ECG electrodes are attached to your chest to monitor your heart's electrical activity, while a blood pressure cuff placed on your arm checks your blood pressure every few minutes automatically.

An intravenous line, or IV, will be inserted into your arm for administering the dobutamine. As the dose of dobutamine increases, your heart will start beating harder and faster, just like it would during physical exercise. It's normal to feel some chest discomfort, nausea, or shortness of breath. We continuously take ultrasound images of your heart throughout the test. Please inform us if you feel anything uncomfortable or unusual during the procedure.

What Happens After the Test?

Once the test is over, we stop the dobutamine and your heartbeat will return to normal. We then remove the IV and you can go home. Feeling slightly tired after the test is normal, but you should return to feeling normal soon. If you encounter any problems or have questions, contact your doctor. The results will be discussed with you after the test, and we'll also discuss any further follow-up or ongoing treatment needed. Both your referring doctor and local GP will also be informed of the results.

Are There Any Risks?

Ultrasound is known to be safe for clinical use. The dobutamine test is quite safe and is commonly performed on patients who experience chest pain or other symptoms that prevent them from exercising. A few might experience minor heart palpitations or facial flushing, but these symptoms disappear quickly once the test is stopped. Symptoms such as chest pain, breathlessness, or dizzy spells usually stop once the test is concluded.

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography is frequently used in patients with suspected or confirmed coronary artery disease. There is a very small risk of serious side effects like a heart attack or stroke, but these are very rare.

(This test will take up to 60 minutes including the test, preparation and recovery time.)

Pre-Test Preparation:

To ensure the accuracy of your Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram, there are a few steps you need to follow. You must not eat or drink anything except water for one hour prior to your test. Please also avoid caffeine.

Certain medications - Beta blockers and Calcium channel blockers - must be stopped 48 hours before the test. These are commonly prescribed drugs for heart conditions, high blood pressure, and other health issues.

Beta-blockers are used to lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate, and improve heart function. Here are some generic and brand names of beta-blockers:

  • Generic names: Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, Flecainide, Ivabradine, Labetalol, Metoprolol, Nebivolol, Oxprenolol, Pindolol, Propranolol, Sotalol
  • Brand names: Anselol, Atehexal, Felodipine, Noten, Tenormin, Bicor, Dilatrend, Kredex, Tambacor, Coralan, Presolol, Trandate, Betaloc, Lopresor, Metohexal, Metrolol, Metrol, Minax, Toprol-XL, Nebilate, Corbeton, Barbloc, Visken, Deralin, Inderal, Cardol, Solavert, Sotab, Sotacor, Sotahexal

Calcium Channel Blockers lower blood pressure and prevent chest pain. Here are some generic and brand names:

  • Generic names: Diltiazem, Verapamil
  • Brand names: Auscard, Cardizem, Coras, Diltahexal, Dilzem, Vascocardol, Anpec, Cordilox, Isoptin, Vercaps, Verhexal

Note: You must stop these medications unless your referring doctor has advised you otherwise. If you're uncertain, please consult your referring doctor and inform us about any changes.

What to Notify Your Doctor About:

Please immediately let your doctor know if you are:

  • Pregnant or think you might be: Dobutamine might pose a risk to the fetus.
  • Breastfeeding: Dobutamine might pass into breast milk.
  • Allergic or sensitive to medications or latex.


Please note that the dobutamine stress echo is privately billed and the cost for a dobutamine stress echo is $525. However, there is a rebate available if you are eligible. After the rebate, the out-of-pocket expense is $36.80.