Atropine augmentation in dobutamine stress echocardiography: Role and incremental value in a clinical practice setting

Lieng H. Ling, Patricia A. Pellikka, Douglas W. Mahoney, Jae K. Oh, Robert B. McCully, Veronique L. Roger, James B. Seward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study sought to evaluate the role and incremental value of atropine in a large patient group undergoing dobutamine stress echocardiography. Background. Tire use of atropine to potentiate dobutamine stress is not standard practice. Although the utility of atropine has been described, data on its incremental value remain limited and do not exist for a routine clinical practice setting. Methods. Dobutamine stress echocardiography was performed in 1,171 patients with use of a standard protocol. Atropine (maximal dose 2.0 mg) was given to 299 patients (26%) who did not attain target heart rate. Coronary angiography was performed in 183 patients (46 received atropine), 148 of whom were found to have significant coronary artery disease (≤ 70% diameter stenosis in a major epicardial vessel, 150% stenosis for left main coronary artery disease). All tests were reviewed independently by experienced observers. Results. There mere no major adverse events. Patients receiving atropine had a lower rest heart rate (65 vs. 74 beats/min, p < 0.0001) and more often received beta-adrenergic blocking agents (49% vs. 14%, p < 0.0001). Of 444 patients in whom stress-induced-ischemia developed, 70 (16%) required atropine before ischemia became evident. Sensitivity for detection of significant coronary artery disease was 90% with dobutamine alone and 95% after the addition of atropine. In 66 patients with normal wall motion at rest, test sensitivity was 65% before and 84% after atropine was given. Atropine use did not compromise test specificity. New diagnostic information was obtained in 20 (50%) of 40 patients with angiographic coronary artery disease given atropine. Proportionately more patients with single vessel disease required atropine before an ischemic response was observed; this effect appeared related to the higher ischemic threshold in these patients. Conclusions. Augmentation of heart rate had a modest influence on the overall diagnostic sensitivity of dobutamine stress echocardiography in our study cohort. However, it was particularly helpful in patients receiving beta blockers and those with milder coronary disease. Despite the use of ≤ 1 mg of atropine in some patients, this incremental value was not achieved at the expense of safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Atropine augmentation in dobutamine stress echocardiography: Role and incremental value in a clinical practice setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this