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 is used to compute the RPP.
RPP can also be determined 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.
Heart rate and systolic blood pressure rises with activity making them reproducible with exercise, so it’s relatively easy to predict their levels of efficiency. The 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