Pharmacologic Echocardiogram (Dobutamine Stress Echo)

For people who are unable to walk on a treadmill, this examination will help achieve an adequate heart rate response to evaluate the function of your heart.

Gel will be applied to your chest. A transducer (small, microphone-type device) will be placed on your skin and moved around the area to view the heart from different angles. You will be lying on your left side. Images of your heart will be obtained through the entire exam, to be stored in a computer. Afterward, electrodes (small, adhesive patches) will be attached to your chest. You will then be monitored for heart rate and rhythm (EKG).

A nurse who will also monitor your blood pressure will then start an IV. With a physician present, the medication Dobutamine will be infused over a period of time to increase your heart rate. The medication Atropine may also be infused during this time. As your heart rate increases, you may feel anxious. When an adequate heart rate is obtained, the medication will be stopped and the anxious feeling will go away.

1.5 hours in the Cardiovascular Department


  • Wear loose clothing for exercising (tennis shoes, shorts, etc.)
  • No eating after midnight for morning appointments (you may have water)
  • If your appointment is after 12 noon, you may have a light breakfast and lunch
  • Avoid the use of creams and lotions on the chest area
  • Take your usual medications unless instructed otherwise by your physician--please bring a list of medications with you
  • No smoking on the day of the exam
  • Diabetic patients are encouraged to ask their physician for instructions when diet or medication changes are requested

If you have questions about preparing for this test, call your doctor or MyMichigan's Cardiovascular Department at (989) 839-3570.

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