Royal Sussex County Hospital. Princes Royal Hospital. Hove Polyclinic. Sussex Universities

The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Bike Test

What is a cardiopulmonary exercise test?
The Cardio-pulmonary Exercise Test is similar to standard exercise test other than it is performed on a stationary bike and involves the use of mouth piece to measure oxygen uptake. As well as diagnosing ischemia (reduced Oxygen to the heart muscle) and shortness of breath it is a very useful test for determining the function of the heart and is mostly used for patients with heart failure and


How is a cardiopulmonary exercise test performed?
As with a standard exercise test small electrodes are first placed on the chest (ECG). The mouthpiece is then attached and you will be asked to pedal on the bike at a comfortable pace without any resistance applied. After the warm up a small amount pedal resistance is added very gradually at regular intervals throughout the test You will be asked to pedal for as long as possible and exercise will usually last between 5 and 12 minutes.

Why is a cardiopulmonary exercise test done?
A Cardiopulmonary exercise test is normally requested when a diagnosis of exercise limitation is unclear or for heart failure/cardiomyopathy patients in order to determine their exercise capacity.

Will I cope with the exercise required?

As with a standard exercise test just about everyone can cope with a cardiopulmonary exercise test. The bike makes the test easier than walking on a treadmill as it is a non-weight bearing activity and only slight increases in resistance are added. The exercise intensity is increased based on your capabilities and at any point you would like to stop you may do so. You will be encouraged to do as much as you can as the more you do the more information we get for your doctor.

Are there any risks involved?
In the vast majority of cases the cardiopulmonary exercise test is carried out without any problems and the risks are very similar to those of a standard exercise test. Even when testing patients with a higher risk only 1 in 300 patients had a serious complication in a recent study. Medical help is near to hand to deal with possible problems.