Stress Echocardiogram (DSE)

What is a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE)?

A Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (DSE) is a test which allows doctors to analyse your heart at resting pace and during ‘stress’ when it is beating faster. It identifies narrowed blood vessels by assessing the effect of these narrowing’s on heart pumping. It is more specific and can produce more detailed results than an ETT Test.

What happens during a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram Test

Don’t take beta-blockers, verapamil or diltiazem tablets for 48 hours before the test as they may stop the heart rate increase we need. Take any other medication as normal. You should also take along a list of all the medications you are taking and let the staff know if you have any allergies or reactions to drugs or other tests.

Your blood pressure will be checked upon arrival and monitored throughout the procedure. If it is too high the Doctor may decide to postpone the test until it is at an acceptable level. In this case a letter would be sent to your GP to let him know and to possibly alter your medications.

A drip will be placed in your arm. Your heart will then be ‘stressed’ by a drug called dobutamine. An additional drug called atropine may also be given to help speed the heart up. The dobutamine drug will slowly be injected, via a vein in your arm, until your heart reaches the target rate (this is calculated according to your age). Your blood pressure and ECG  will be continually monitored throughout the procedure.

If you are having the stress echocardiogram as part of an investigation into chest pain, this may be provoked during the test. If this happens the test can be stopped at any time and the effects of the drug will usually disappear within a few minutes. There is a small risk from the test, including getting palpitations, feeling breathless and getting nausea. Overall complication rates are low, and we are set up to deal with them if they occur.

What happens after a Stress Echocardiogram Test

Once the test is completed you will continue to be monitored until your heart rate returns to normal. Although the effects of the test and dobutamine should have worn off by the time you leave the department you should have a relative or friend drive you home.

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