Enhanced sensitivity for detection of coronary artery disease by addition of atropine to dobutamine stress echocardiography

Am J Cardiol. 1992 Jul 1;70(1):41-6. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(92)91387-j.


Patients undergoing dobutamine stress echocardiography often take beta antagonists which limit heart rate response and sensitivity in the test for detection of coronary artery disease. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of the addition of atropine to dobutamine stress echocardiography on clinical, electrocardiographic and echocardiographic outcomes. Dobutamine stress echocardiography was performed starting at and increasing every 3 minutes with 10 micrograms/kg/min to a maximum of 40 micrograms/kg/min (stage 4), which was continued for 6 minutes. In patients not achieving 85% predicted maximal exercise heart rate and in whom the test was not judged positive on echocardiographic or electrocardiographic criteria, atropine (0.25 mg intravenously, repeated up to a maximum of 1 mg if necessary) was added and dobutamine continued for up to a further 5 minutes, or until an adequate heart rate was achieved or the test was stopped because of chest pain or electrocardiographic changes. Of 80 consecutive patients undergoing dobutamine stress echocardiography within 2 weeks of coronary angiography, 49 required atropine (group A) and 31 required only dobutamine (group B). After dobutamine alone, heart rate (mean +/- SD) was higher in group B than in group A: 129 +/- 20 vs 90 +/- 18 beats/min, p less than 0.0001; but after the addition of atropine, heart rate in group A increased to 120 +/- 20 beats/min. Overall sensitivity for the detection of coronary disease was 70%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 55 to 83%; after the addition of atropine, sensitivity for group A was 65%, 95% CI 45 to 81%; in group B, sensitivity was 81%, 95% CI 54 to 96%.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Atropine*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Dobutamine*
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Dobutamine
  • Atropine