Study objectives: Dobutamine echocardiography is widely used for the evaluation of myocardial contractile reserve. The purpose of the study was to determine the prognostic value of low-dose dobutamine echocardiography in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDCM).
Patients: The study group consisted of 77 consecutive patients with recently diagnosed IDCM (mean [± SD] age, 49 ± 9 years; men, 82%) and left ventricular (LV) ejection fractions of < 40%.
Interventions: Two-dimensional and Doppler echocardiographic variables were measured before and after the infusion of dobutamine at the rate of 10 μg/kg/min for 5 min.
Measurements and results: During a mean follow-up period of 63 ± 7 months (range, 49 to 75 months) 30 patients (39%) died and five patients (6%) underwent successful heart transplantations. Using multivariate regression analysis, the only significant factors related to fatal outcome or the need for cardiac transplantation were the following: (1) LV end-systolic volume of > 150 mL after low-dose dobutamine infusion (odds ratio [OR], 2.2; confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 4.1; p = 0.011); (2) no decrease of LV end-diastolic volume after dobutamine infusion (OR, 1.9; CI, 1.1 to 3.4; p = 0.031); (3) atrial fibrillation (OR, 2.7; CI, 1.4 to 5.3; p = 0.003); and (4) male gender (OR, 2.6; CI, 1.2 to 5.5; p = 0.017). A scoring system was proposed with one point assigned for each of the above-mentioned factors. The mortality rates for total scores of 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 0%, 19%, 48%, 83%, and 100%, respectively.
Conclusion: The response of the LV to low-dose dobutamine infusion adds clinically valuable prognostic information to the evaluation of the patient with IDCM.