Cardiopulmonary Stress Test

An advanced cardiopulmonary exercise test (A-CPET) is used to pinpoint the source of a patient’s dyspnea (shortness of breath) and to determine their exercise limitation.

Before performing an A-CPET, the physician threads a catheter through the right side of a patient’s heart and into the pulmonary artery. Attached to the end of the catheter is a device that measures how the body is using oxygen and to evaluate the function of the heart and lungs during exercise and at rest.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) offers one of only a few multidisciplinary cardiovascular imaging programs in the country and also is one of only a handful of centers in the nation to offer the A-CPET. The BWH Cardiovascular Imaging Program combines the treatment, education, and research expertise of multiple disciplines – cardiology, radiology, nuclear medicine, molecular biology, medical physics, and chemistry – and incorporates the use of all available imaging types, including echocardiography, cardiac CT, cardiac MRI, nuclear cardiology, PET/CT, CT/MRI, and ultrasound.

Our patients with heart and vascular conditions have access to top specialists throughout the fields of cardiovascular medicine, cardiac surgery, cardiac imaging, vascular surgery, and cardiac anesthesia. These physicians practice at the BWH Heart & Vascular Center, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 “Cardiology & Heart Surgery” providers in U.S. News and World Report’s annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey.

Why Have an Advanced Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test?

To determine the cause(s) of their dyspnea, patients traditionally have undergone a series of standard tests. This battery of tests can be helpful for determining or ruling out common causes of dyspnea, but not for diagnosing less-common causes. An advanced cardiopulmonary exercise test, however, can detect these rarer conditions, such as exercise-induced pulmonary artery hypertension, exercise-induced heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, pre-load failure, and certain neurologic and muscular disorders.

What You Should Expect

The Heart & Vascular Center is located in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, across the street from BWH’s main 75 Francis Street entrance. The Heart & Vascular Center brings together the full range of cardiovascular services in one location, fostering seamless and coordinated care for all patients.

Prior to an imaging procedure, patients check in at the Cardiovascular Imaging Center in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center. During the procedure, family and friends can wait in the Shapiro Family Center.

Multidisciplinary Care

In addition to our cardiovascular imaging experts, patients also benefit from the teamwork of cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac electrophysiologists, and anesthesiologists, all experts in cardiovascular disorders. These specialists work alongside nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, dietitians, and social workers to achieve better outcomes for patients.

Cardiovascular Imaging Appointments and Locations


Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families.

Access a complete directory of patient and family services.

Learn about the Watkins Clinic in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center.

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For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

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