Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET)

A Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) helps doctors in finding out how well a child’s heart, lungs, and muscles respond during exercise.

CPET involves the measurement of respiratory gas exchange: oxygen uptake (VO2), carbon dioxide output (VCO2), and minute ventilation (VE), in addition to monitoring electrocardiography, blood pressure and pulse oximetry, typically during a symptom-limited maximal progressive exercise tolerance test.

The test provides an assessment of the integrative response involving the pulmonary, cardiovascular, haematopoietic, neuropsychological and skeletal muscle systems.

The purpose of this test is to identify the cause of the exercise limitation in children, particularly when specific questions remain after consideration of basic clinical data, such as physical examination, resting ECG and respiratory function tests.

CPET can also be used to assess response to intervention. The paediatric respiratory laboratory only offers CPET when clinical history is suggestive of a primary respiratory disorder.

In general, a normal individuals exercise capacity is limited by the cardiovascular system. They reach a maximal heart rate and cardiac output at peak exercise, but still have a substantial amount of pulmonary reserve. In disease states, exercise limitation may occur due to a lack of pulmonary reserve, a peripheral muscle impairment, or reduced cardiovascular reserve.

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