Diagnostics & Testing

Dobutamine Stress Echo Test

Important information to prepare for your test

Please follow these instructions so we do not need to reschedule your test. Do not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

48 hours before your test

  • Stop taking these medications: Persantine® (dipyridamole), Theo-Dur® (theophylline) and Aggrenox®.

24 hours before your test

Do not drink or eat products that contain caffeine (coffee and tea, including decaf; cola; energy drinks; Mountain Dew®) and those labeled decaffeinated or caffeine-free (these still contain small amounts of caffeine).

Do not take medications that contain caffeine (Excedrin®, Anacin®, diet pills, NoDoz, etc.). If you aren't sure if a medication contains caffeine, read the label or ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Stop taking these medications: Isosorbide dinitrate (Dilatrate®, Isordil®, etc.), isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur®, Ismo®, etc.), nitroglycerin (Nitrostat®, Nitro-Dur®, Deponit®, Minitran, nitro patch, etc.).

Day of your test

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before your test
  • If you use an inhaler to help you breathe, please bring it to the test.
  • Bring your medications with you on the day of your test.

Why do I need this test?

During this test, you will get medication (dobutamine) to mimic the way your heart works when you exercise. We will closely watch you during the test to see how you react to the medication. This test is used if you are not able to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike, but your doctor needs more information about:

  • How well your heart works when you are active
  • Your risk of coronary artery disease
  • How well your cardiac treatment plan is working

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Please see the test preparation information on the first page of this handout for information about medications to stop taking before your test. Your doctor may want you to make other changes to your medications. Do not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

Information for patients with diabetes

If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your doctor how much medication you should take the day of the test. You may need to take half of your usual morning dose and eat a light meal 4 hours before the test. If you take pills to control your blood sugar, do not take your medication until after the test.

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, let us know right away. Plan to eat and take your diabetes medication after your test.

What should I wear on the day of the test?

Please wear comfortable clothes. DO NOT bring valuables.

How long does the test take?

The appointment takes about 60 minutes. The actual infusion time is about 15 minutes. Plan to stay in the waiting room for at least 30 minutes after your test.

What happens during the test?

  • The test will be done in an area supervised by a doctor.
  • Electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) will be placed on your body. They are used to record your heart's electrical activity (electrocardiograph/ECG) during the test.
  • An intravenous line (IV) will be placed into a vein in your arm. The IV is used to deliver dobutamine into your bloodstream.
  • We will record an ECG and take your blood pressure before the test starts.
  • You will also have an echocardiogram (echo). This test uses ultrasound to check your heart's movement. You will also have echos done during the test.
  • During the first echo, you will receive the dobutamine.
  • Once you get the medication, you may notice your heart beating stronger. You may have a warm, flushing feeling and mild headache.
  • We will ask you how you are feeling throughout the test. Please let us know at any time if you have pain or discomfort in your chest, arm or jaw; or if you feel short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded or have any other unusual symptoms.
  • Your ECG will be monitored to look for changes that mean the test should be stopped.
  • We will remove the IV when the test is finished. Your heart rate should return to normal in about 5 to 10 minutes.

How do I get the results of my test?

Your doctor will get your test results and review them with you.

We’re here to make managing your healthcare easier.

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