Cardiology Terminology: Rate Pressure Product (RPP)

Filed Under: Heart Health

Rate pressure product (RPP) is a term used in cardiology, as well as exercise physiology, to measure the workload—or oxygen demand—of the heart, and reflects hemodynamic stress. It is measured at rest and during various stages of exercise. At the conclusion of each stage of an exercise stress test, we document the heart rate and blood pressure, which can be used to compute the RPP.

If you have had a recent stress test, or attend cardiac rehab, then your cardiac team—your cardiologist, rehab nurses, physical therapists, and/or exercise physiologist—can and do compute your RPP during exercise. We can determine your RPP at every stage of a stress test protocol as you move through increasing levels of exercise and exertion.

We can also determine the RPP at your recommended level of safe exercise—what we call the “target heart rate” or “target zone.” This is the ideal, safe RPP that keeps you working out below the threshold where you experience physical symptoms you are aware of, or below the threshold at which we noted EKG changes that the heart is not getting enough oxygen, whether or not you are having any perceived symptoms.

Obviously, your heart rate and systolic blood pressure rise with activity—and that is pretty reproducible with exercise, and so it’s relatively easy to predict. Trouble is, psychological stress also affects your RPP, and is a very tricky element to gauge, as psychological stress varies from “zero to 60” as they say—from moment to moment.

Anyone with cardiac concerns can find out their safe RPP range from their cardiologist or cardiac rehab team. It’s an integral part of your exercise prescription.

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DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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