What is a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography?
Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography is a test that uses an ultrasound to look at how your heart performs when under stress. Dobutamine medication is an alternative way of stressing the heart for people who are unable to exercise to the required level on a treadmill, for example, people with joint problems.
What is it used for?
This test is used as a very effective screening tool for patients who may have narrowing of arteries of heart, weak heart (to see viability) or heart valve disease.
What Does the Test Involve?
Initially, ECG electrodes (Sticky patches) are attached across your chest to monitor the electrical activity of your heart throughout the test and a cuff is applied to your arm to monitor your blood pressure. An echocardiogram (ultrasound) will then be performed with you on the bed, using sound waves to assess your heart. An ultrasound probe with gel will be applied to your chest using gentle pressure. A small needle will be used to place a cannula (IV) into your forearm so that the Dobutamine can be given during the test. To increase heart rate, additional drug like atropine may be given.
During the test, echocardiogram is used to take pictures of your heart with increasing doses of medication from different views and compared.
Initially, when the drip (medication) starts, you feel very little. Progressively, you will be aware of the heart beating stronger and then faster. Throughout the test a physician will be present to monitor your readings, assess your performance and to minimise the chance of any complications occurring. If at any time during the test you are feeling unwell. Please report the symptom. The test is stopped if you develop symptoms that would prevent you from continuing or at the request of the doctor.
What are the Risks?
Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography is non-invasive procedure. The risks associated with the test are rare but may include: headache, anxiety, tremors, nausea, vomiting, hypotension (low blood pressure), high BP or minor heart rhythm disturbances. These are reported infrequently and are usually temporary, mostly disappears within few minutes of stopping the drip.
Serious potential complications can include a major disturbance of the heart rhythm requiring resuscitation, development of heart failure, prolonged angina (heart pain), or a heart attack (Risk 2-3 in 10,000 test). From these complications arises the very small risk of mortality occurring (Risk 1in 10,000 tests). These risks may be higher in patients who are already known to have severe coronary diseases.
The doctor performing the test is aware of these risks and will have taken them into account before deciding to commence any test. Please note that emergency equipment and trained personnel are available to deal with any situation that may arise. There is also medication at hand that will stop the effect of Dobutamine immediately if requires.
Driving To and From Your Appointment
We recommend that you do not drive immediately following your test, and where possible, find alternative transport to and from your appointment. You will be kept in observation for 30 minutes to up to 2 hours after the test.