Graphical Data Display for Clinical Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing

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Abstract

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is a well-known, valuable tool in the clinical evaluation of patients with different causes of exercise limitation and unexplained dyspnea. A wealth of data is generated by each individual test. This may be challenging regarding a comprehensive and reliable interpretation of an exercise study in a timely manner. An optimized graphical display of exercise data may substantially help to improve the efficacy and reliability of the interpretation process. However, there are limited and heterogeneous recommendations on standardized graphical display in current exercise testing guidelines. To date, a widely used three-by-three array of specifically arranged graphical panels known as the “nine-panel plot” is probably the most common method of plotting exercise gas exchange data in a standardized way. Furthermore, optimized scaling of the plots, the use of colors and style elements, as well as suitable averaging methods have to be considered to achieve a high level of quality and reproducibility of the results. Specific plots of key parameters may allow a fast and reliable visual determination of important diagnostic and prognostic markers in cardiac and pulmonary diseases.

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