Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE)

A Dobutamine Stress Echo is a test used to evaluate coronary artery disease. During this test the heart needs to be working at its hardest. Dobutamine is a medication that increases heart rate and blood pressure similar to the effect of exercise and so mimics 'stress'.

The Dobutamine Stress Echo (DSE) was developed for people who are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary cycle as is required in a more traditional stress echo. In this test, you will be given Dobutamine, a medication that stimulates the heart and make it think that it is actually exercising.

In order to diagnose certain heart conditions, some heart studies require that the heart be subjected to “stress” or exercise. This allows the cardiologist to evaluate the heart while it is working at its hardest.

The Procedure

A Dobutatmine Stress Echocardiogram will take approximately 1 hour to complete. The procedure uses sound waves (ultrasound) to produce an image of the internal structures of the heart, which the cardiologist evaluates for coronary artery disease.

An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm and dobutamine will be administered by a nurse. This will stimulate the heart to start working as it would were you exercising. Your blood pressure will be continuously monitored as the dobutamine dose is increased until you reach your target heart rate.

To get an image of your heart, an ultrasound is used. Gel is applied to the chest area and a probe (transducer) glides over the gel to gather the images, which your cardiologist will review.

During the procedure, electrodes are placed on the chest and are be connected to the ECG monitor. These electrodes record and trace the electrical activity of your heart during the Echo. The images and the activity will be reviewed and reported on by your cardiologist.

Following the Procedure

Generally, there is no special type of care required following a dobutamine stress echocardiogram.

You may resume your usual diet and activities unless your doctor advises you differently.