Question: What is a metabolic exercise test, and why might it be necessary to evaluate heart failure?
Answer: Metabolic exercise stress test is a sophisticated test that measures cardiac reserve and is of great importance in evaluating patients with a failing heart. This test is very similar to a treadmill exercise stress test, but in addition to that we measure the amount of oxygen that is consumed by the body as well as the amount of carbon dioxide that's produced by the body. This gives us a very very precise idea of how much activity and how much stress the heart can handle.
The importance of a metabolic stress test is really in a number of different avenues.
For example we can ascertain the prognosis of patients with heart failure. This is a wonderful test that can tell us if the severity of heart failure is at a point where patients should be considered for heart transplantation.
It is also a test that can allow us to prescribe exercise in patients with heart failure by ascertaining a safe level of exercise. It's also a test that can give us a very, very precise information on how well medications or new devices are working for the heart failure patient.