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Cardiopulmonary Stress Testing
Is it the heart or the lungs?

A cardiopulmonary stress test (CP stress test) is a special exercise test and is done using a special type of bicycle called a cycle ergometer and specialized computer equipment. This test takes an electrocardiogram (ECG) of your heart and also measures how your lungs work while you exercise. Your doctor may ask you to take a cardiopulmonary stress test to see if you have any cardiac or respiratory problems during exercise and to determine how well the heart pumps blood to the muscles. This information is used to make a more accurate diagnosis, as well as to formulate an appropriate treatment plan for a variety of lung problems.

For the test, ECG wires are attached to your chest for an electrocardiogram of your heart. You will breathe into a breath analyzer that measures the gas exchange in your lungs. Arterial blood gases (ABGs) will be drawn before and after the test and an oximeter will be placed on your finger to determine how much oxygen is in your blood while you exercise. Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken during the test.

You will start out by cycling slowly on the bicycle and, at regular intervals, the workload that you have to cycle against is increased. This continues until the patient is unable to go any further or they reach their maximum predicted heart rate. The results of the test will assist your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis and developing an appropriate treatment plan. Indications for comprehensive cardiopulmonary stress testing include:

  1. Evaluation of dyspnea or shortness of breath
  2. Functional status determination in congestive heart failure
  3. Pre-operative risk assessment
  4. Disability determination
  5. Response to therapeutic interventions
  6. Development of exercise prescriptions




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