When it comes to evaluating heart health, you might be familiar with the electrocardiogram (EKG). This simple test, which measures your heart’s electrical activity, is typically the first test administered during a heart exam or even during an annual physical.

But while an EKG yields important information about your heart, it doesn’t offer a complete picture of your cardiopulmonary health, including how your heart and lungs respond to physical activity. To do that, you need a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET).

With offices in Orlando, Sebring, and Davenport, Florida, Vein & Cardiovascular Center offers cardiopulmonary exercise tests using state-of-the-art technology for accurate results that can help guide your treatment.

Here’s what you can expect from your CPET during your visit with Ashish Pal, MD.

Quick facts about CPET

CPET evaluates your heart and lung activity and your risk factors for cardiopulmonary diseases. If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical issue, the test can help ensure your treatment stays on track over time.

Unlike a regular cardiac stress test where you walk on a treadmill, our CPET uses a stationary bicycle for greater stability and a more gradual increase in activity. Most tests take 1-2 hours total, with the exercise portion lasting about 8-14 minutes.

A CPET also differs from a standard cardiac stress test in that it looks at your lung health and how your cardiopulmonary system works together. A CPET looks for signs of:

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac valve dysfunction
  • Certain metabolic disorders
  • Lung disorders
  • Deconditioning
  • Vessel-related problems

CPET can also evaluate the effects of COVID-19 infections, including shortness of breath and other symptoms associated with long-haul COVID-19.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing: What to expect

Because you exercise during your test, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable, loose clothing that makes it easy to move. Dr. Pal provides a list of instructions before your appointment, including whether to take medication right before your test and what to eat and drink beforehand.

Dr. Pal measures your heart rate and blood pressure prior to the test so he can compare those readings with measurements taken during and after the CPET. You’re also hooked up to a variety of monitors to assess your heart activity, oxygen levels, respiration, and other factors.

After these steps, you begin exercising on the stationary bicycle, gradually increasing the bike’s speed and intensity over time. Throughout the test, you’re closely monitored by Dr. Pal or a member of our health care team.

Once the test is complete, we take additional measurements of your heart rate and other variables to compare them.

There’s no downtime associated with a cardiopulmonary test, and you can go back to your regular routine afterward. Once he finishes evaluating your results, Dr. Pal shares them with you, along with any recommendations for further treatment or testing.

Make your heart health a priority

Heart health exams are certainly important if you’re experiencing any heart-related symptoms, like chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. But they’re also important as you age to make sure your heart stays healthy.

To learn more about the role of cardiopulmonary exercise testing and other tests and exams aimed at optimizing your heart health, book an appointment online or over the phone today with Dr. Pal and the team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center.

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