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Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET) is an innovative way to diagnose exercise intolerance and to assess the ability of a patient to withstand the rigours of major surgery. A CPET can be done within a week from a referral from your surgeon, GP or physician.

Fit for surgery

Surgical operations increase the body’s demand for oxygen in the same way as exercising does. This increased demand for oxygen lasts for several days after a operation.

If we know a patient’s fitness level and how their own heart and lungs are likely to respond to surgery we can tailor our anaesthesia and critical care to suit the demands that their surgery is going to make. That’s where a CPET can make all the difference.

Diseases that affect the heart, lungs, circulation, or blood, will cause an abnormal response to exercise. Knowing this beforehand lets us prepare in advance to significantly improve the chance of a successful recovery.

Fit for life

Breathlessness and exercise intolerance have many different causes. CPET allows us to understand what is the most likely reason for an individual’s reduced ability to exercise, be it being simply unfit or overweight or if there is a more serious problem that requires further investigation such as breathing disorders or heart disease. It can even tell us if breathlessness is due to issues with the circulation, the blood (anaemia fro example) or with the function of the muscles themselves.

How does CPET work?

CPET is unique because it allows us to bring together the functions of the respiratory, cardiac and circulatory systems in a one-stop, non-invasive complete diagnostic test. At MTW we believe this is a major advance in diagnostics and in the quality of care for patients undergoing major surgery.

An appointment will last about an hour, but the actual period of exercise is usually between eight and 12 minutes. Patients simply need to cycle on an exercise bike whilst breathing through a face mask The amount of exercise is relatively modest – all we require is that a patient gives their best effort.

The monitored exercise will allow us to collect as much information about the patient as possible. In turn, it will help us plan what is needed for their individual operation and subsequent successful recovery. During the test the patient will, of course, be continuously monitored by the medical team.

One CPET can fit all

Many patients worry about their fitness level before they take the test. The CPET is not going to test to extremes of lifestyle. CPET assessments work effectively for all walks of life – young or old, from the unfit to highly trained athletes. The type of patients we regularly assess are those in their 60s, 70s and 80s (even the 90s) who may already have a heart or lung condition.

What information will be analysed during the CPET?

  • Continuous 12 lead exercise ECG
  • Blood pressure
  • Continuous oxygen saturation
  • Breath by breath lung function
  • Breath by breath oxygen uptake and CO2 production

Results driven

We aim to provide an overview of a test on the day. The referring consultant will receive a detailed and comprehensive report including a personalised risk assessment based upon the patient’s current level of fitness usually within 48 hours. A copy of the report is usually sent to the GP. The GP has the opportunity to provide a treatment plan based on these results.

The CPET team have extensive experience in this field and have provided this service to the region since 2007. The test is conducted and interpreted by consultants who work in critical care and anaesthesia at the Trust.

For details about the CPET Clinic please contact Ms L Wells, Anaesthetic Secretary, at Maidstone Hospital on telephone 01622 79000.

The CPET Clinic is led by Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Dr Mike Browning.

CPET Clinics are held every Thursday in the Chronic Pain Department on the first floor of Maidstone Hospital