When you exercise, your cardiovascular and respiratory systems work hard to supply oxygen and other essential fuel to your muscles. How these systems function under stress can tell a lot about a person’s overall health. If your doctor wants to assess your heart and lungs, a cardiopulmonary stress test is just the right tool.
Who Needs A Cardiopulmonary Stress Test?
A cardiopulmonary stress test is also known as a cardiopulmonary exercise test. It is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure that provides information about your cardiopulmonary system at rest and during exercise. This test is recommended for patients whose electrocardiogram, echocardiography, or spirometry results are slightly abnormal. Your doctor can use this test to gather information on your cardiopulmonary structure and suggest possible treatment.
What Happens During The Test?
You begin the test at rest. It is important that the air you exhale does not mix with the air in the room. A non-breathing valve, which controls the direction of airflow, prevents this from happening. A machine records your blood pressure, baseline heart rate, oxygen saturation, and gas exchange values.
Your provider will ask you to exercise on a stationary cycle or motorized treadmill. Pedaling or walking at a constant speed before increasing the intensity is recommended. You will do this while an attached mouthpiece measures respiratory gas exchange per breath. The entire test takes 40 minutes to complete, but the exercise part is relatively short – usually about 10 minutes only.
What Does A Cardiopulmonary Stress Test Measure?
Data collected during the exam includes your heart rate, EKG, oxygen uptake, and carbon dioxide output. The data helps calculate your minute ventilation and maximal oxygen consumption. Your doctor can then examine how your heart and lungs function at rest and during times of stress
A cardiopulmonary stress test measures oxygen input and carbon dioxide output. It also checks your anaerobic threshold. This metric is the point when the metabolic demands of physical activity go beyond the oxygen intake needed to function.
In particular, your anaerobic threshold can indicate how much exercise you can feasibly handle. With your physical limit taken into consideration, your pulmonologist can make the most responsive and effective exercise plan for you. Knowing a person’s anaerobic threshold is particularly useful for patients with heart failure, for whom overexertion may be fatal.
Stress Test For Diagnosis, Treatment Assessment, And Disability Evaluation
On top of generally assessing a person’s exercise capacity, healthcare providers use a cardiopulmonary stress test to determine if patients have other conditions. These may include ischemic heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, and congenital heart defects. Moreover, it can help your doctor study if your current treatment plan is effective.
The test can inform the diagnosis of patients for employment disability evaluations, as well. If a person wants to return to a physically demanding job, they may have to take this test to determine if they are fit to do so.
Can You Undergo A Cardiopulmonary Stress Test?
Even with all the benefits, a cardiopulmonary stress test is not without risk. It is generally not recommended to patients with severe heart and respiratory problems. Consult with your doctor first to see if you’re a good candidate. You should not take the test if you have:
- Syncope due to physical activity
- Active myocardial ischemia
- Decompensated heart failure
- Uncontrolled arrhythmia
- Advanced aortic stenosis
- Endocarditis, myocarditis, pericarditis
- Aortic dissection
- Acute respiratory failure
- Acute pulmonary edema
- Uncontrolled asthma
- Resting oxygen saturation of less than 85%
- Untreated deep vein thrombosis pulmonary embolism
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation
Cardiopulmonary Stress Test In North Texas
By assessing how the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems work together under stress, a cardiopulmonary stress test can provide greater insight into a person’s health. If your doctor recommends a cardiopulmonary stress test, visit the Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas today.
Our very own Dr. Olusegun Oseni is board-certified in pulmonary medicine and uses a multi-faceted approach to pulmonary care and disease management. You will be tested under the close supervision of a physician to ensure maximum comfort and safety.
To schedule an appointment with our providers, call (817) 594-9993 or fill out our online appointment request form. We serve patients from Parker County, Tarrant County, and surrounding areas. We look forward to seeing you!