Efficacy of atropine as a chronotropic agent in heart transplant patients undergoing dobutamine stress echocardiography

Larry K. Kociolek, S. Michelle Bierig*, Steven C. Herrmann, Arthur J. Labovitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: After heart transplant (HTX), the heart is completely denervated. While sympathetic reinnervation is likely to occur, there is conflicting evidence regarding parasympathetic reinnervation. Accordingly, it is unclear if atropine is efficacious as a chronotropic agent in HTX patients undergoing dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE), since cholinergic cardiac stimulation is required for atropine to exert its effect. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that atropine can sufficiently increase the heart rate (HR) in HTX patients undergoing DSE. Methods: A retrospective review was performed on 68 HTX patients who underwent DSE as part of their routine annual HTX follow-ups. Dobutamine was administered in the standard fashion of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 mcg/kg per minute with blood pressure and electrocardiographic monitoring. If target HR was not attained, atropine was administered to aid in achieving 85% of maximum age-predicted HR. Results: Mean patient age was 58 ± 10 years. Mean period since transplant was 9 ± 4 years. Forty-seven (69%) patients received dobutamine only, and 21 (31%) required additional atropine to reach target HR. Of the 21 patients who received atropine, 10 (48%) reached target HR. Neither time from transplant, age, gender, resting HR, medications, nor atherosclerotic risk factors predicted responsiveness to atropine. Those responding to dobutamine had a significantly greater resting HR than those receiving additional atropine. Conclusions: The adjunctive use of atropine in HTX patients during DSE aids in reaching 85% of maximum predicted HR in some patients. Furthermore, resting HR may predict the additional need of atropine during DSE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-387
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Atropine
  • Dobutamine
  • Dobutamine stress echocardiography
  • Echocardiography
  • Heart transplantation
  • Reinnervation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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