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Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), also known as a pediatric stress test, is a valuable tool for gaining information about a child’s heart function and aerobic fitness.
Pediatric cardiologists with Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, usually conduct heart tests while the child is resting. But children rarely rest that much. CPET can give your child’s physicians information about how the heart responds when the child is active.
The test provides information that helps to define how a child’s heart responds to various levels of exercise. During CPET, changes are recorded in your child’s heart rhythm, heart rate, blood pressure, heart function and other measurements while your child exercises.
Depending on your child’s needs, age or ability, the CPET may be done on a treadmill or stationary bike. The treadmill test takes place in stages. The treadmill will speed up or slow down, and be raised or lowered while the child walks on it. Tests performed on the bike will gradually increase the pedaling resistance — how much work the child has to do to move the pedals.
During the test, your child will wear:
The test takes about 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of that time as the exercise part of the test. Shortness of breath and tired muscles — similar to what happens during an intense workout — is to be expected.