Safety of intravenous dipyridamole for stress testing with thallium imaging

Am J Cardiol. 1987 Jan 1;59(1):152-4. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(87)80089-9.


Cardiac and noncardiac side effects were studied in 293 consecutive patients referred for nonexercise stress thallium imaging with intravenous dipyridamole. Six minutes after the initiation of infusion, there was a mean 9-beat/min increase in heart rate and a mean 12-mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure. The largest increase in heart rate exceeded 20 beats/min in only 13% of patients and the largest decrease in systolic blood pressure exceeded 20 mm Hg in 31%. Noncardiac side effects were headache (11%), lightheadedness or dizziness (5%) and nausea (4%). Only 9 patients required intravenous aminophylline for relief of noncardiac side effects: severe headache in 7 and nausea in 2. Cardiac side effects included chest pain in 76 patients (26%), of whom 70% were given aminophylline for relief of symptoms. Sixty patients (20%) had ischemic ST-segment depression and 56 (19%) had arrhythmias (ventricular in 50 and atrial in 6). There were no deaths, myocardial infarctions or sustained arrhythmias due to dipyridamole administration. Among 62 patients also undergoing cardiac catheterization, side effects except for arrhythmias were unrelated to the number of vessels with coronary artery disease. Intravenous dipyridamole is safe for nonexercise stress testing and has few serious side effects. However, the possibility of ischemia requires careful selection of patients and monitoring of vital signs and the electrocardiogram during the test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aminophylline / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Chest Pain / chemically induced
  • Chest Pain / drug therapy
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Dipyridamole / adverse effects*
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Female
  • Heart Function Tests*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Thallium*


  • Aminophylline
  • Dipyridamole
  • Thallium