Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET)

What is a Cardiopulmonary Exercise test?

The cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) assesses how well the heart, lungs, and muscles are working individually, and how these systems work in unison. Your heart and lungs work together to deliver oxygen to your muscles, where it is used to make energy, and to remove carbon dioxide from your body. The full cardiopulmonary system is assessed during the test by measuring the amount of oxygen your body is using, the amount of carbon dioxide it is producing, your breathing pattern, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram (EKG) while you are riding astationary bicycle.


Why get tested?

The test is typically given as a preventative measure based on certain risk factors such as hypertension, family history of heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, being overweight, etc.  The test can also be used to accurately determine the cause for things like shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, and chest pain or discomfort. Besides detecting problems in multiple body systems, the CPET can also be used to monitor changes in the condition of your disease and whether the prescribed treatment program is improving your condition


How is the test performed?

The test normally takes about 45 minutes (which includes 3-4 minutes of vigorous exercise). During the test, you will ride a stationary bike while you breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a computerized system which analyzes expired gases, including oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration.


How should I prepare for the test?

Since you will be exercising, be sure to wear comfortable clothing and proper footwear for riding a bicycle. You will be connected to an EKG machine, so wear clothing that provides easy access to your chest.   Do not smoke, eat, or drink (except water) for 4 hours before your test. Exercise or physical labor should be avoided for 24 hours before your test.