Cardiorespiratory fitness has been established as an independent overall predictor of morbidity and mortality. However, patients’ symptoms or stated levels of exercise intolerance correlate only poorly with resting functional and imaging tests. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is the gold standard for the integrative assessment of the cardiocirculatory, pulmonary and metabolic response to exercise and can help identify the source of exercise limitation, monitor disease progression, evaluate treatment responsiveness and inform about prognosis. Though CPET offers more valuable and pertinent information with slightly more expenditure of time compared to other methods even at submaximal exercise levels, it remains underutilized for various reasons such as costs, reimbursement and expertise. CPET can be seen as a complex, but not necessarily difficult tool. The objective of this review was to provide a description of the underlying principles of physiology, and an easy-to-follow guidance to indications, methodology, and interpretative strategies of CPET.© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.
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