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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2016 June;69(2):289-96

language: English, Italian

Cardiopulmonary exercise test in athletes and coronary diseases

Annamaria SALVATI 1, Josuel ORA 1, 2, Bruno DONATUCCI 1, 2, Paola ROGLIANI 1, 2

1 Department of Systems Medicine University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy; 2 Division of Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy


The cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) is an important test to evaluate fitness and endurance in athletes. Competitive sports represent the most extreme stress to which the body can be exposed. Differently from pathological conditions where the CPET is used to evaluate the limiting factor or to explore some specific conditions such as dyspnea or exercise intolerance, in athletes it is designed to optimize peak performance and to personalized exercise prescriptions. For sport doctors a deeper understanding on which physiological limiting factors are involved during an exercise test is crucial. Physical ability of an athlete’s body is determined by the quality of external breathing, cardiovascular functions and by features of metabolism related to the tissue breathing and transport of substrates. Physiological testing of athletes requires the correct description and evaluation of sports-specific variables and specific devices simulating the real sport of athletes have to be used. This short review will summarize the role of CPET in high fit athletes, describing the main parameters used (V’O2max, LT) and their limits and the use of the CPET in some specific conditions to rule out cardiovascular diseases.

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