Pharmacologic stress testing: Experience with dipyridamole, adenosine, and dobutamine

M. E. McGuinness, R. L. Talbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The use of pharmacologic stress testing for detecting and assessing ischemic heart disease (IHD) is reviewed. Methods of diagnosing IHD are designed to emulate conditions that increase myocardial oxygen demand in order to identify areas of ischemia and atherosclerotic lesions and to evaluate their functional or anatomical importance. Diagnostic methods can be divided into functional assessment with stress testing and anatomical assessment with coronary angiography. Physical stressors, such as exercise or atrial pacing, or pharmacologic stressors, such as vasodilators or β- adrenergic-receptor agonists, can be used in stress testing. Electrocardiography, thallium planar scintigraphy, echocardiography, and other techniques are used to evaluate the response to stress testing. Unlike exercise stress testing, pharmacologic testing does not require physical exertion. Adenosine, dipyridamole, and dobutamine are the principal agents used in pharmacologic stress testing. Adenosine and dipyridamole mediate coronary artery vasodilation. Adenosine, a direct agonist, has a rapid onset and short duration of action. Dipyridamole, the only agent with approved labeling for use in stress testing, inhibits adenosine indirectly. Dobutamine increases cardiac output and heart rate as well as promoting coronary artery vasodilation. Clinical trials show that all three drugs can be used safely and effectively in patients after acute myocardial infarction or before vascular surgery and in individuals with risk factors for or symptoms of IHD. The sensitivity and specificity of pharmacologic stress testing for detecting IHD are at least as high as those of exercise testing. Minor adverse effects, including chest pain, headache, and facial flushing, are common, but major adverse effects are rare. Pharmacologic stress testing can be used in patients who cannot undergo exercise testing and offers a noninvasive alternative to coronary angiography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-346
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994

Keywords

  • Adenosine
  • Cardiac drugs
  • Coronary disease
  • Dipyridamole
  • Dobutamine
  • Mechanism of action
  • Tests
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Pharmaceutical Science

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