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Cardio pulmonary exercise test: CPET/CPEx

Aims: to accurately measure exercise capacity for clinical use and research

What is CPET ? Cardio pulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET or CPEx) is a non-invasive simultaneous measurement of the cardiovascular and respiratory system during exercise to assess a patient’s exercise capacity.
How to refer Please download + print/email this referral form  to
Why do a CPET ?

CPET is used for many specific reasons, but in general it can

  • help estimate risk for patients undergoing surgery
  • be useful in investigating breathlessness
  • be used in exercise programmes  
What does it involve ?

Patients please click here to see our YOU tube guide!

During the CPET test, once consent has been taken and the preliminary tests (Hb, spirometry) are complete, the patient undertakes a 'ramped protocol test' on a cycle ergometer.

We attach a 12 lead ECG, blood pressure cuff, saturation probe and a soft rubber face mask with a turbine to measure the expired gases before the test starts. The patient then rests for 3 minutes then begins to cycle. After 3 minutes of unloaded cycling the resistance begins to increase. The patient continues pedalling at 60rpm until they can no longer cycle, unless they have chest pains, feel discomfort or rarely if the physiologist stops the test.

During every test exercise physiologists trained to carry out the CPET are present, in conjunction with a doctor.

Reports from the test are written up and sent back to the medical team.

Download a brief introduction to CPET by Adam Jackson

Here's a great introduction to CPET interpretation from the University of Washington


The CPET tests are carried out at two sites;

University College London Hospital, 1st floor podium in Clinic A- Tuesdays, and Thursdays all day & wednedsay afternoons 

The Royal Free Hospital testing Thursday AM- Dr Dan Martin

The Whittington Hospital, Archway – tested at UCLH/RFH

Staff Rob StephensDan Martin, James Otto, Amy Jones & Phil Hennis, David Bruce with valuable advice from Denny Levett, Professor Mike Grocott and Professor Hugh Montgomery

Completed Study- currently analysing:

Using cardiopulmonary exercise testing as a risk stratification tool for patients undergoing major colorectal surgery, Funded by NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Grant Programme; multi-centre randomised controlled trial; PI Prof Mike Grocott with SOURCE


Please contact initially Dan Martin or Rob Stephens

Anaesthetics Department
Podium 3, Maple Link corridor
University College Hospital
235 Euston Road


We recommend courses on the website

The ATS guidelines on performing a CPEx test


Professor Monty Mythen
Dr Gareth Ackland

Dr Ramani Moonesinghe at SOURCE

The CPEX team is a multidisciplinary venture started by the Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine group UCL

Contact Rob Stephens at UCLH, Dan Martin at RFH or

We're starting an exciting learning programme in August 2013 
Here's test Slideshow 1

Contact Rob Stephens for more info

Planned Talks at 530pm, UCLH consultants Room