Locations across Queensland within Queensland Cardiovascular Group

Phone (07) 3016 1111

Diagnostic Tests:
Dobutamine Stress Echo

dobutamine stress echo

What is a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography?

dobutamine stress echo test is designed for patients who have difficulty walking on a treadmill.

Instead of walking on a treadmill, an intravenous drip is used and a medication called Dobutamine is infused at a very slow rate into the blood stream to temporarily increase the heart rate in order to mimic physical exercise.

The infusion will be stopped when the target heart rate is achieved, and the pulse rate returns to normal usually within 10-15 minutes.

You are monitored during the test, and it may stop early if you develop an abnormal heart rhythm or symptoms such as chest pain or breathlessness.

Click here to learn about our other cardiac diagnostic tests

What Should I Expect?

You should generally allow up to 2 hours for the entire test to be performed. The specific Dobutamine infusion phase usually takes between 5-20 minutes.

Ultrasound images of your heart will be taken before the infusion starts, then at various stages throughout the test as your heart rate increases.

During the test, your blood pressure and ECG will be monitored regularly and noted by the Cardiologist and Cardiac Scientist.

The effects of Dobutamine typically wear off within 10-15 minutes. One of the common side effects of Dobutamine is a drop in blood pressure, therefore, we advise that you arrange for someone to drive you home after the test.

dobutamine stress echo test


This is a very low risk procedure and the risks of this test are no different to those of a standard stress test. The most common occur only occur in 3:1,000 people and include:

  • Chest pain which can be treated by stopping the test and administering medication.
  • Development of fluid in the lungs which will result in the cessation of the test and administration of medication.
  • An abnormal heart beat or “arrhythmia” which may be treated by stopping the test and may also be treated with or without medication.

There is a risk of heart attack in 1:2,500 people and a risk of death in 1:10,000 people. If you have a history of previous/recent heart attack, a tears in the aorta, recent fluid or clots in the lungs, severe heart valve disease, irregular heart rhythm, palpitations, or recent increase in chest pain you should advise the staff before you commence the test.

Dobutamine Stress Echo Results

A report will be generated from your images by the Cardiologist and the Sonographer, this will then go to your referring Doctor electronically, usually the same day or overnight. You should contact your referring Doctor for your results and any follow-up required. If there is any urgency with the results (for example you are seeing your GP the same day), please advise the cardiac scientist looking after you so that we can fast-track the report.

Learn about our Other Cardiac Diagnostic Tests

electrocardiogram (ecg) icon
transthoracic echocardiogram
a clock and a drawing of a human body.
Holter Monitor
cardiac event monitor
Event Monitor
implanted cardiac monitor
Implanted Cardiac Monitor
transoesophageal echocardiography
Transoesophageal Echocardiogram (TOE)
exercise stress test
Exercise Stress Test
ct coronary angiogram
CT Coronary Angiogram (CTCA)
calcium score test
CTCA Calcium Score
dobutamine stress echo
Dobutamine Stress Echo
exercise stress echocardiography
Exercise Stress Echocardiography
24 hour blood pressure monitor
24 Hour Blood Pressure Monitor