ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY: WHAT IS A DOBUTAMINE STRESS ECHO?
The dobutamine stress echo is a type of stress test performed using a drug: dobutamine and an echo machine. This test is performed to determine whether any areas of the heart are receiving less blood supply due to a blockage in the blood vessels supplying blood to that region. The test is performed like a simple echo examination but with the variation that an intravenous infusion of dobutamine is started alongwith. Dobutamine is a stimulant of the heart and makes the heart contract faster and harder. If a portion of the heart is receiving less blood supply it contracts less hard and this becomes evident during the echo examination. A dobutamine stress echo is especially useful to determine blockages of coronary arteries in people who cannot perform a routine stress test.
An additional use of a 'low dose' dobutamine echo test is to determine if a portion of the heart muscle that is contracting poorly on an echo test is dead or merely weakened due to reduced blood supply. A low dose of dobutamine will cause a weakened muscle to beat more vigorously whereas a dead muscle will not be stimulated despite the dobutamine.