Reasons, Preparation and Procedure For Conducting a Dobutamine Stress Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Dobutamine Stress Test

Dobutamine Cardiac Stress Test is an examination of the movement of the valves and chambers of the heart under inducement from externally administered medication. This test is especially useful to monitor the functioning of the hearts of those who cannot undergo physical exercise.

Reason Why It is Done

The test is done in order to diagnose various kinds of cardiac ailments such as myocardial disease, pericardial disease, congenital heart disease and coronary heart disease. These diseases usually manifest themselves through irregular movements of the valves and the chambers of the heart, which get detected during the dobutamine stress test. The results of this test also enable the doctor determine the exact nature of your heart ailment and prescribe suitable medication and treatment. Even if the results show that your heart is in good shape, the test can predict to some degree the chances of developing a coronary artery disease in the future by evaluating how it responds to activity.


A few basic rules should be followed before the actual test. Stop consuming food at least 4 hours in advance of the test. You should not drink coffee or consume any nicotine-based products on the day of the test. Consult your doctor if you are already on medication for treating a heart condition. Diabetic patients may be allowed to consume fruit juice during the regular insulin injection. Generally, patients are asked not to consume insulin pills on the day of the test. You may drink water before the test. Make sure that you rest adequately the night before the test is conducted. Pregnant women and patients of hypertension should consult their physician before going in for this test.


The Dobutamine Stress Echo test involves the injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance intravenously to stimulate the heart and trigger a response similar to that caused by vigorous physical exertion without actually making the person walk on a treadmill. This is why this procedure is commonly called the thallium stress test. The patient is asked to lie straight on a table and ten electrode patches are attached over his/her chest by a sonographer. An ECG is taken for the heart in this state of the rest. This is followed by the intravenous injection, which is withdrawn as soon as the medicine gets absorbed into the bloodstream and begins to show its impact on the heart activity. The entire procedure is painless and takes about an hour.