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Heart Disease and the Echocardiogram

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What Should I Do to Prepare for a Stress Echocardiogram? continued...

Do not take the following heart medications for 24 hours before your test unless your doctor tells you otherwise, or unless the medication is needed to treat chest discomfort:

  • Beta-blockers (for example, Tenormin, Lopressor, Toprol, or Inderal)
  • Isosorbide dinitrate (for example, Isordil, Sorbitrate)
  • Isosorbide mononitrate (for example, Ismo, Indur, Monoket)
  • Nitroglycerin (for example, Deponit, Nitrostat, Nitropatches)

Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking other heart medications on the day of your test. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your doctor. Do not discontinue any medication without first talking with your doctor.

If you use an inhaler for your breathing, please bring it with you.

What Happens During the Dobutamine-Induced Stress Echocardiogram?

When getting a dobutamine-induced stress test, a technician will place electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (ECG or EKG) that charts your heart's electrical activity during the test.

An intravenous line (IV) will be inserted into a vein in your arm so the dobutamine medication can be delivered directly into your bloodstream. The technician will perform a resting echocardiogram, measure your resting heart rate, and take your blood pressure. The doctor or nurse will administer the dobutamine into the IV while the technician continues to obtain echo images. The medication will cause your heart to react as if you were exercising: your heart rate will rise and you may feel it beating more strongly. It may cause a warm, flushing feeling and in some cases, a mild headache.

At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm, or jaw pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, or any other unusual symptoms.

The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the ECG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped. The IV will be removed from your arm once all of the medication has entered your bloodstream.

The appointment will take about 60 minutes. The actual infusion time is usually about 15 minutes. After the test, plan to stay in the waiting room until all of the symptoms you may have experienced during the test have passed.

Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.

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