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Cardiopulmonary Testing

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This kind of testing is sometimes referred to as a "stress test" or as "exercise testing." It's performed on a treadmill and it will measure the gas exchange in addition to cardiac activity. During the test, patients breathe through a special mouthpiece that is designed to calculate how much oxygen is going into the lungs, and how much carbon dioxide is being released when the individual exhales. This type of test will help medical professionals to determine if the exercise level you achieve is healthy and normal for your age, size, and gender.

Why Do I Need Cardiopulmonary Test?

Often times, doctors will order this test to be done because of the following:

  • You have unexplained shortness of breath during regular, daily activities
  • To determine if you have underlying cardiac problems which could result in heart failure
  • To aid in developing an exercise program specific to your health needs
  • To evaluate a patient's condition before certain types of surgeries
  • To evaluate lung function
  • You are an athlete and want to know your true fitness level

Irregular HeartbeatWhat Information Will the Doctor Get From This Test?

From a stress test, the doctor will be able to get a lot of specific information about your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. This can help your doctor to determine what kind of condition your lungs and heart are in. This can help medical professionals to learn more about your coronary blood flow, heart valve function, and they can evaulate heart damage, or determine what settings a pacemaker would require if you are in need of one.

How is the Testing Done?

The patient will have a cardiac monitor attached to their chest with an abrasive solution. Your chest will first be conditioned with rubbing alcohol to be sure that the monitor pads will stick well to your skin. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed around your arm and will be connected to one of your fingers. You will be fitted with a headpiece, as well, which will have a mouthpiece that will measure gas exchange. Then, you will be started out on a treadmill at a very low level. Gradually, the treadmill will go faster and faster. Once a patient can no longer continue with the test, the doctor will stop the treadmill before they start feeling ill or faint. The test will typically take 1.5 hours from start to finish.

What Should I Do Before the Test?

  1. Bring a list of all your medications, including any over-the-counter medicines you take on a regular basis. Know the dosages, as well.
  2. Bring your doctor's signed order and insurance referrals to your appointment.
  3. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are rubber-soled.
  4. Do not eat 2 hours before the test.
  5. Do not drink alcohol 24 hours before the test.
  6. Do not drink carbonated or caffeinated beverages 6 hours before the test.
  7. Do not do any heavy lifting or exercising before the test.
  8. Do not smoke or use tobacco products 6 hours before the test.
  9. If you use an inhaler, bring it with you.
  10. Know your height and weight.

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