What is the role of cardiopulmonary stress testing in pulmonary function assessment?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Kevin McCarthy, RPFT; Chief Editor: Nader Kamangar, MD, FACP, FCCP, FCCM  more...
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The cardiopulmonary exercise test is a means of measuring the integrated response of the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and muscular systems to a steadily increasing workload. The test may be performed on a bicycle ergometer or treadmill. Resting measurements are made for 3-5 minutes. Three minutes of unloaded cycling is performed as a warmup period. The workload is incremented at a rate designed to allow reaching maximum work capacity in 8-12 minutes. The test continues to a point of symptom limitation (severe dyspnea, chest pain, faintness, pallor, inability to continue pedaling or walking) or discontinuation by medical staff for one of the following conditions: significant ECG abnormalities, fall in systolic or diastolic blood pressure (BP) greater than 20 mm Hg below resting value, rise in systolic BP to greater than 250 mm Hg, rise in diastolic BP to greater than 120 mm Hg, severe oxygen desaturation (<80%), or achievement of maximum predicted heart rate.

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