The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET): Start Up Right with Proper Exercise


Maintaining one’s health mainly depends on two important factors: proper diet and regular exercise. This is why many of us are seeking to remain active by signing up in gyms and participating in various sports. However, do these exercise regimens match our body’s capabilities and limits, specifically that of our heart, lungs and muscles?

The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) is a non-invasive method used to assess the performance of the heart and lungs at rest and during exercise. With the use of outstanding technology, the patient’s breathing pattern, the amount of oxygen the body is using and the amount of carbon dioxide it is producing will indicate the level of exercise and one’s threshold when exerting effort during physical activities, such as in sports.

Patients who may take the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET) are the following:

  • Individuals who would want to maintain health and wellness
  • Patients presenting with difficulty of breathing
  • Athletes
  • Fitness enthusiasts who want to plan their exercise regimen
  • Patients in rehabilitation following a major illness

Conditions that can be detected by the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET)

The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) can specifically detect the following conditions:

  • Heart Failure (Inability of the heart to pump enough blood)
  • Myocardial Ischemia (Heart Disease)
  • Chronotropic Incompetence(Inability of the heart to increase speed of contraction)
  • Pulmonary Ventilation Disorder (Inability of lungs to take in enough air)
  • Pulmonary Circulation Disorder (Inability of the body to pull enough air from the lungs)
  • Muscle Metabolic Disorder (Inability of the muscle cells to use oxygen from the bloodstream)
  • Deconditioning (Poor cardiovascular fitness that can be improved with exercise)

Facilitation of the CPET

The performance of the CPET will take 45-60 minutes including connecting and disconnecting the equipment, and completing one’s health history. Prior to the exercise, each patient will take 2 lung tests at rest and will be compared to one’s performance after the exercise. Each patient will be asked to ride a stationary bicycle or a treadmill machine with the resistance of the bicycle steadily increasing as the test progresses. While the patient undergoes the CPET, the following equipment will be used to monitor the body’s activity; 1) face mask (for oxygen expenditure and carbon dioxide production); 2) electrocardiogram or EKG (for heart rate and rhythm monitoring); 3) blood pressure cuff (for blood pressure monitoring) and;4) pulse oximeter (for measurement of blood cells covered with oxygen). A highly-skilled and trained doctor will record, test and assess the patient’s body’s maximum limits depending on his performance during the test.

CPET’s Benefit on Patient Safety

Compared to other stress tests, the CPET has a lower risk of the occurrence of cardiac events (heart attack, stroke and dangerous arrhythmias) while the test is being performed.

Preparation for the CPET

In as much as the CPET is a physical activity, it is necessary that patients wear comfortable clothing and proper footwear to allow themselves to undergo the test without any hindrances. One should avoid doing exercise or physical labor 24 hours prior to taking the test, should not eat or drink (except water) 3 hours before, and abstain from smoking for at least 8 hours before the CPET. For further instructions, make sure to consult your doctor before and after the test regarding necessary medication and succeeding steps.


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