CPET – Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test

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Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET)

Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing

If your work or quality of life is drastically affected by fatigue, cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) can objectively document health impairment for disability claims and assist with obtaining a diagnosis. CPET can also increase awareness of the impacts of physical activity on your health and inform pacing and energy conservation strategies that reduce symptoms of post-exertional malaise (PEM), a worsening of symptoms after physical, cognitive, or emotional stress.

What is CPET?

CPET is an objective and non-invasive tool that assesses maximal aerobic capacity and sustainable exercise performance, helping identify the origins of aerobic impairment and shortness of breath. Aerobic capacity is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use to produce energy. CPET involves pedaling on a stationary bicycle at a steady pace while the workload, or resistance  gradually increases.

Sampling exhaled breaths during exercise determines oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, and pulmonary ventilation. Heart rate, blood pressure, and arterial oxygen saturation are also assessed using a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), blood pressure cuff, and pulse oximeter.

A less strenuous protocol is used for moderate-to-severely affected patients, but criteria for maximal effort must be met for the test to be valid. Medical supervision is available for high-risk cardiac patients.

Why the 2-day test?

The two-day CPET protocol first researched by Workwell Foundation is suited to those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), long COVID, fibromyalgia, and other fatiguing conditions. At Workwell, exercise physiologists and physical therapists with expertise in CPET and fatigue-related illnesses assess post-exertional malaise (PEM) and the ability to work on consecutive days.

This protocol can measure functional impairment and fatigue during PEM. The first and second tests are separated by 24 hours to allow time to capture symptoms of PEM on the second day. Because a single test does not always show abnormalities, a second test is required, and often reflects how the patient feels when symptoms of PEM flare up.

Upon completion of the 2-day CPET protocol, a customized report is prepared based on the objective data collected. Interpreting the results for disability purposes requires expertise in the areas of health, exercise science, and the legal aspects of disability evaluation. Workwell’s reports have helped numerous patients win their disability cases and are extremely validating for patients who have bounced around the healthcare system.

How will the results help?

CPET measures an individual’s ventilatory/anaerobic threshold (V/AT) and corresponding heart rate. A heart rate monitor can be programmed to  alarm, allowing patients with ME/CFS, long COVID and other similar conditions to limit time spent above their V/AT. This approach assists with pacing activities to minimize the risk of PEM or avoid it altogether.

Learn More About Disability Testing

With over 25 years of experience, the Workwell Foundation is endorsed by various professional medical organizations. Our staff has vast expertise dealing with conditions such as ME/CFS, long COVID, fibromyalgia syndrome, Lyme disease, and other pain-inducing or fatiguing conditions.

Workwell follows American College of Sports Medicine guidelines and advises various organizations, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Academy of Medicine.

To learn more about CPET or download the information packet click here. It contains forms that need to be completed and returned before scheduling.  After reviewing the completed paperwork, a Workwell staff member will contact you to schedule an appointment. Alternatively, you can contact us on: 209-599-7194