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Catecholamines in Urine

Catecholamines (say "kat-uh-KOH-luh-meens") are hormones made mostly by your adrenal glands as a reaction to stress.

When you feel stressed, these hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle strength, and mental alertness. They also lower the amount of blood that goes to the skin and intestines. They increase blood going to the major organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. This helps your body prepare for "fight-or-flight" reactions.

Your body breaks down these hormones and passes them into your urine. This test measures how much of these hormones are in your urine over a 24-hour period.

Why It Is Done

A catecholamine test is done to help diagnose a rare tumor in the adrenal glands called a pheochromocytoma.

Tumors like this can cause your adrenal glands to release too many hormones. And that can cause high blood pressure, excessive sweating, headaches, fast heartbeats, and tremors.

How To Prepare

You may be asked to avoid certain foods and fluids for 2 to 3 days before the test. They include:

  • Caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate.
  • Amines. These are found in bananas, walnuts, avocados, fava beans, cheese, beer, and red wine.
  • Any foods or fluids with vanilla.
  • Licorice.

Do not use tobacco at all during the 24-hour urine collection.

Be sure to keep warm during the 24 hours. Being cold can raise your catecholamine levels.

Drink plenty of fluids during the 24 hours to avoid dehydration.

Many medicines can change the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take.

Your doctor may ask you to stop certain medicines, such as blood pressure medicines, before the test. Do not take cold or allergy remedies, aspirin, or diet pills for 2 weeks before the test.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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