How is an exercise tolerance test performed?

Updated: Nov 20, 2018
  • Author: Richard S Krause, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Multiple protocols exist for exercise tolerance testing. A bicycle ergometer or treadmill is most often used. The strategy is to increase workload incrementally until a predetermined level is reached or ischemia is induced. A typical protocol would be to reach a workload of 10 metabolic equivalents of task (METs) or achieve 85% of the maximum predicted heart rate for a given age. If these levels are reached, without induction of ischemia, the test is considered adequate and negative. If these levels are unable to be achieved, the test is considered indeterminate.

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