Exertional dyspnoea in obesity

Vipa Bernhardt, Tony G. Babb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The purpose of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in the obese person, as in any cardiopulmonary exercise test, is to determine the patient’s exercise tolerance, and to help identify and/or distinguish between the various physiological factors that could contribute to exercise intolerance. Unexplained dyspnoea on exertion is a common reason for CPET, but it is an extremely complex symptom to explain. Sometimes obesity is the simple answer by elimination of other possibilities. Thus, distinguishing among multiple clinical causes for exertional dyspnoea depends on the ability to eliminate possibilities while recognising response patterns that are unique to the obese patient. This includes the otherwise healthy obese patient, as well as the obese patient with potentially multiple cardiopulmonary limitations. Despite obvious limitations in lung function, metabolic disease and/or cardiovascular dysfunction, obesity may be the most likely reason for exertional dyspnoea. In this article, we will review the more common cardiopulmonary responses to exercise in the otherwise healthy obese adult with special emphasis on dyspnoea on exertion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-495
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Respiratory Review
Issue number142
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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