What is the role of exercise spirometry in the diagnosis of asthma, and how is it administered?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020
  • Author: Michael J Morris, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Exercise spirometry is the standard method for assessing patients with exercise-induced bronchoconstricition. Testing involves 6-10 minutes of strenuous exertion at 85-90% of predicted maximal heart rate and measurement of postexercise spirometry for 15-30 minutes. The defined cutoff for a positive test result is a 15% decrease in FEV1 after exercise.

Exercise testing may be accomplished in 3 different ways, using cycle ergometry, a standard treadmill test, or free running exercise. This method of testing is limited because laboratory conditions may not subject the patient to the usual conditions that trigger exercise-induced bronchoconstriction symptoms, and results have a lower sensitivity for asthma than other methods.

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