What is a Cardiopulmonary Stress Test?
A Cardiopulmonary Stress Test is an exercise test performed on a treadmill. This test will measure gas exchange in addition to pulmonary and cardiac activity. Breathing is done through a special mouthpiece during the test to measure the amount of oxygen going in and the amount of carbon dioxide going out. This is referred to as "gas exchange." This test will determine if the exercise level achieved and maintained is normal for age, sex and gender.
Why would my doctor order this test?
A cardiopulmonary stress test can be done for a variety of reasons. Some of these are:
- Identify unexplained shortness of breath
- Detect and evaluate heart failure
- Evaluate lung function
- Aid in developing an exercise program
- Evaluate for certain surgeries
What information can be obtained?
Measuring gas exchange is the key element of the test. Other measurements are recorded such as heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Cardiopulmonary stress testing can provide your doctor with important information about your heart and lungs. Data can be obtained to assess some information about coronary blood flow to evaluate your heart valve function, to predict ideal pacemaker settings, to evaluate heart failure and to make decisions about starting pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation program. Athletes can also gain information about their true level of fitness.
How is the test done?
The test is performed in the Cardiac Services Department of Doylestown Hospital. The patient is connected to a cardiac monitor after their chest has been prepared by rubbing with an abrasive solution. A blood pressure cuff is placed on one arm and a clip placed on a finger. A headpiece is worn that anchors the mouthpiece so it will not fall out of the mouth. Soft nose clips are placed on the nose to ensure all breathing is done through the mouthpiece. The treadmill is started at a low level. The speed and grade will slowly increase throughout the test.
The test ends when the individual can no longer continue to exercise or when the physician or his/her designee has gathered enough information. The test will also be stopped if any ill effects occur during exercise.
How do I prepare?
- Bring your signed doctor's order WITH A WRITTEN DIAGNOSIS and any insurance referrals that are required.
- Bring a complete list of all medications that you are taking (INCLUDING ALL OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS). Check with your doctor BEFORE the test to see if you should take all your medications the day of the test.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Shoes may be either sneakers or comfortable rubber-soled walking shoes.
- DO NOT eat for 2 hours before the test.
- NO alcohol for 24 hours before the test.
- NO coffee, tea, caffeinated or carbonated beverages for 6 hours before the test.
- No cigarettes or other tobacco products for 6 hours before the test.
- DO NOT perform any heavy exercise before your appointment.
- If you use a fast-acting inhaler, BRING IT WITH YOU. You may need to use it before or after your test.
- KNOW your accurate height and weight. This information will be needed for the test.
How long will it take?
Allow one-and-a-half hours for the test.
How will I get the results?
The physician who ordered your test will contact you with the results.
PLEASE NOTE: If the results of your test need to be sent to an ordering physician who does not practice at Doylestown Hospital, you must provide the doctor's full name, address, and, if possible, fax number. You may provide this information on the day of the test or call 215-345-2231, Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.