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Safety and cardiac chronotropic responsiveness to the early injection of atropine during dobutamine stress echocardiography in the elderly
  1. J M Tsutsui,
  2. F Cerqueira Lario,
  3. D R Fernandes,
  4. I Kowatsch,
  5. J C Sbano,
  6. J A Franchini Ramires,
  7. W Mathias Jr
  1. Echocardiography Laboratory, Heart Institute (InCor), University of São Paulo Medical School, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Jeane M Tsutsui
    Heart Institute (InCor), University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Av Dr Enéas Carvalho de Aguiar, 44, Sao Paulo, Brazil, CEP 05403–000;


Objective: To determine the safety and cardiac chronotropic responsiveness to early atropine dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) in the elderly.

Design: Retrospective study of 258 patients ⩾ 70 years who underwent early atropine DSE and 290 patients ⩾ 70 years who underwent conventional DSE. In the early atropine protocol, atropine was started at 20 μg/kg/min of dobutamine if heart rate was < 100 beats/min, up to 2 mg. The cardiac chronotropic responsiveness in the elderly was compared with a control group of patients < 70 years matched for sex, myocardial infarction, diabetes, and treatment with β blockers and calcium channel blockers.

Results: The dose of dobutamine given to elderly patients was lower during early atropine than during conventional DSE (mean (SD) 29 (7) v 38 (4) μg/kg/min, p  =  0.001). Early atropine DSE resulted in diminished incidence of ventricular extrasystoles, non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, bradycardia, and hypotension compared with conventional DSE. In comparison with patients < 70 years, elderly patients required lower doses of dobutamine and atropine and achieved a higher percentage of predicted maximum heart rate (92 (9)% v 88 (10)%, p  =  0.0001). Except for more common hypotension (16% v 10%, p  =  0.004), no other difference in adverse effects was observed between patients ⩾ 70 and < 70 years.

Conclusions: Early atropine DSE is a safe strategy in the elderly resulting in lower incidence of minor adverse effects than with the conventional protocol. Elderly patients presented adequate cardiac chronotropic responsiveness to early injections of atropine, requiring lower doses of drugs to reach test end points.

  • CAD, coronary artery disease
  • DSE, dobutamine stress echocardiography
  • PMHR, predicted maximum heart rate
  • dobutamine stress echocardiography
  • elderly
  • atropine
  • chronotropic responsiveness

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  • Published Online First 29 March 2005

  • Ethics approval: The study was approved by ethical committee of the Heart Institute (InCor) and written consent form was obtained from all participants.