Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE)

Contact Us

Heart & Vascular Centre, Mater Private Network, 72 Eccles Street, Dublin 7, D07 RD8P 1800 20 05 50 Outside ROI +353 (0)51 595 124

Please note that a referral letter is required before an appointment can be confirmed.

Heart and Vascular Centre, 2nd Floor, Citygate, Mahon, Cork, T12 K199 021 601 3258

Please note that a referral letter is required before an appointment can be confirmed.

Useful Information

About this service

A dobutamine stress echocardiogram/dobutamine stress echo/DSE 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 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 to 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 DSE will take approximately one 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.

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 all be reviewed and reported on by your cardiologist. 

After this test you will occasionally be asked just to sit quietly for around 30 minutes to make sure the effects of the stress medicine have completely worn off.  The drip will then be removed, and you will be able to return home after this.

It is generally advisable that you do not drive yourself for the remainder of the day, so you may need a friend or relative to transport you.

Following the procedure 

Generally, there is no special type of care required following a DSE. You may resume your usual diet and activities unless your doctor advises you differently.  

DSE patient information leaflet

  Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram PDF | 238KB