What is it? During a medication stress echocardiogram, you are given an injection of a medication called dobutamine which stimulates your heart in a similar way as exercise, then closely monitored. Your physician uses this test to evaluate your heart and valve function when you are unable to exercise on a treadmill to determine who well your heart tolerates activity, your likelihood for having coronary artery disease (CAD) and to evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan.
What happens during the test? When the test begins, a cardiac sonographer will place electrodes on 10 areas of your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) that monitors your heart’s electrical activity throughout the test. An IV will be inserted into your arm to deliver the dobutamine medication into your blood stream. After a resting echocardiogram is taken, the medication will be administered and your heart will react as if it was exercising, and more echocardiogram images will be taken. An echocardiogram is a graphic outline of the heart’s movements created from ultrasound vibrations echoed from the heart’s structures.
Preparing for the Test:
- Do not eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours prior to the test.
- Avoid caffeinated and nicotine products for 24 hours before the test.
- Discuss your medications with your physician and what you should or shouldn’t be taking the day of your test.
- Bring your medications with you the day of the test.
- The test will take about an hour. You will be asked to lay flat for the majority of the exam.
- The medication used in the test is short-acting so you will be able to resume normal activity immediately after the test.
- Following your test you should be able to drive. However, if you are not feeling well we will not allow you to leave until you feel better.
- Any family or friends who accompany you will have to remain in the lobby during your test.