What is a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (Echo)?

  • A Dobutamine Stress Echo is a non-invasive test used to evaluate coronary artery disease in patients who are unable to exercise on a treadmill.
  • Dobutamine is a medication that increases heart rate and blood pressure similar to the effect of exercise.
  • The rise in heart rate increases the oxygen demand of the heart and helps to determine if the heart muscle is getting enough blood and oxygen.
  • The test includes an echocardiogram done at rest and again at peak heart rate. This procedure uses sound waves (ultrasound) to produce an image of the internal structures of the heart.
  • In order to produce an image of the heart muscle, gel is applied to the patient's chest area and a transducer (a wand-like apparatus) is moved over the chest.
  • Electrodes are placed on the chest to record an electrocardiogram (EKG) which monitors the heart's rate and rhythm.
  • An IV line will be started and Dobutamine will be administered by a nurse.
  • The cardiologist will observe for any symptoms, irregular heart rhythms, an inappropriate heart rate or blood pressure responses.
  • The test takes about an hour.
  • This test must be ordered by a doctor.

Why is a Dobutamine Stress Echo Done?

  • This test will help the doctor evaluate the patient's cardiac condition related to the following:
    • How well the heart muscle and valves are working and how they function under stress.
    • The size of the heart's pumping chambers (ventricles).
    • Abnormal heart function: coronary artery disease and/or inadequate coronary blood supply.

What Preparation is Needed?

  • Nothing to eat or drink except water four hours prior to test
  • Do not smoke at least 4 hours prior to test.
  • It is important for the patient to ask his doctor:
    • how to adjust his insulin and food intake prior to the test if he is a diabetic
    • if he should take his regular medications the morning of the test.
    • if he is on a Beta Blocker, can he STOP taking this medication 72 hours before the test as this is recommended for best results
  • Do not apply lotions, oils or powders to the chest area.
  • Wear comfortable clothing (shorts or pants with shirt or blouse) and walking or jogging shoes.


  • Pre-register 1-3 days prior to the day the test is scheduled. This will save considerable time on the day of test. Please call (310)517-4754 to pre-register.
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the test.
  • Enter the hospital through the main lobby.
  • Go directly to the Cardiology Department which is located in the basement.
  • Take the Silver elevators to the left of the lobby to the basement.
  • If not pre-registered, plan to arrive an hour before the scheduled time of the test and first check in at the information desk in the main lobby in order to register.