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Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is one of the core diagnostic tests available to pulmonologists and sports medicine practitioners. These tests, which provide insight into normal exercise physiology and the physiologic derangements that occur in many disease states, can be used for a variety of purposes including:

  • To assess maximum exercise capacity and the degree to which some patients are limited by their disease process
  • To determine the cause of unexplained exercise limitation
  • To determine a patient’s fitness to undergo a surgical procedure
  • To follow disease progression over time or monitor the effects of therapy and make decisions about treatment plans
  • To monitor the effects of training in highly conditioned athletes or guide decisions regarding training programs

This page contains several resources designed to help you learn more about the physiology of exercise and develop and/or improve skills in cardiopulmonary exercise test interpretation. These resources include a primer on cardiopulmonary exercise testing and links to other resources on this topic.

A Primer on Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing

by Andrew M. Luks, MD, Robb Glenny, MD, and H. Thomas Robertson, MD

Click to download the entire primer as a single PDF: Introduction to Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing [2M PDF*]

Click to download the entire primer as a PDF Portfolio (required Adobe Acrobat Reader): Introduction to Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing [2M PDF*]

To download individual sections of the primer, select one of these links (all will open in a new window):

Additional Resources

ATS/ACCP* Statement on Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing
This document contains a more detailed description of the cardiopulmonary exercise test and principles of interpretation that is midway between the primer provided above and that of other textbooks in terms of the level of detail and complexity.

The "Statement on Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing" can be accessed through the website for the American Thoracic Society:

  • Go to:
  • Scroll down the page to the heading "“Pulmonary Function and Exercise Testing”
  • Find "ATS/ACCP Statement on Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (2003)" and click on the link to download the PDF.

You can also access the ATS/ACCP Statement throught these links:

* American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP)

Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine
CHAPTER 25 – Clinical Exercise Testing

The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing Website
This is an educational website created by CPX International

*Software capable of displaying a PDF is required for viewing or printing. You may download a free copy of Adobe Reader from the Adobe website.

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