What is a Cardio Test?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2020
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A cardio test may refer to two different things; a test for cardiovascular health by a medical professional, or a physical fitness test by a trainer. Both tests measure cardiovascular health and endurance based on a set period of aerobic exercise. A cardio test can be a very effective method of determining overall cardiovascular health and preventing heart disease.

A cardio test as a measure of physical fitness is somewhat less common. In this type of test, a trainer may ask the person being tested to run on a treadmill for a set period of time, after which time the trainer will measure his or her heart rate and perceived exertion. The trainer may also test the person to see how long he or she can run on the treadmill before needing to stop and walk.

The second type of cardio test, which is ordered by a doctor to determine cardiovascular health, is much more common. It is often referred to as a cardiovascular stress test, and is used as a diagnostic tool. In this test, the patient will generally be hooked up to various devices such as an electrocardiogram that measure blood pressure, pulse, temperature, or oxygen intake, among others. The test generally takes between ten and 20 minutes on the treadmill, over which time the intensity or incline may be steadily increased.


Of course, each test may vary depending on each patient's medical history and abilities. Some patients may just be asked to walk on the treadmill, while others may be asked to jog. If at any time during the test the patient feels faint or has difficulty breathing, it is important to let the tester know. A doctor may order such a test for various reasons, including a family history of heart disease, a smoking habit, diabetes, or high cholesterol, among others, and there are some risks inherent in such a test. It is important to follow any directions after the conclusion of the test, and to note any sudden changes.

If it is not possible for a patient to participate in this type of test for health reasons, the effects may be simulated in what is known as a pharmaceutical cardio test. The patient will be given IV medications that simulate the affects of exercise on the system. Blood pressure and cardiovascular response may then be monitored without endangering the health of the patient through physical exercise. If a doctor orders a cardio test, it is important to complete the test for coronary disease prevention purposes.


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