• All questions on the exam relate to the competencies outlined in the book Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy: Description of Specialty Practice (DSP).

    The content outline lists major content areas and components of the exam. The exam is composed of case histories, each accompanied by multiple-choice questions. The cardiovascular and pulmonary diagnosis that may be included in the exam content are listed below with their frequency of occurrence.

    Examination Content Outline

    A. Professional Behaviors: Leadership, Education, and Administration 10%

    B. Consultation 4%

    C. Evidence-Based Practice 10%

    D. History Taking and Systems Review 10%

    E. Test and Measures 10%

    F. Evaluation 30%

    • Analyzing, interpreting, diagnosis, prognosis, outcome determination

    G. Interventions 12%

    • Procedural interventions;
    • Coordination, communication, and documentation

    H. Foundational, Clinical and Behavioral Sciences 14%

    TOTAL 100%

    Diagnoses Seen by Specialists

    The following lists the most commonly seen patient/client diagnoses seen by specialists. They are listed by frequency seen and rank ordered within each category. The cardiovascular and pulmonary clinical specialist exam will contain cases in a distribution that reflects these diagnoses seen frequently (60% of exam items), occasionally (30% of exam items), or rarely (10% of exam items), based on the survey of specialists.

    Cardiovascular Diagnoses

    Diagnoses Seen Frequently 

    • Atherosclerotic disease, coronary atherosclerosis
    • Atherosclerotic disease, peripheral vascular occlusive disease
    • Chronic (left side) heart failure
    • Patients at high risk for development of cardiovascular disease or complications
    • Hypertension
    • Rhythm disturbances/dysrhythmia
    • Atherosclerotic disease, peripheral vascular, and cardiovascular complications of diabetes
    • Hypertensive heart disease
    • Ischemic conditions, myocardial infarction
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, coronary angioplasty
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, coronary artery bypass graft
    • Ischemic conditions, angina
    • Cor pulmonale/right heart failure
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, cardiac pacemaker insertion
    • Atherosclerotic disease, intermittent claudication
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Valvular disorders
    • Atherosclerotic disease, venous stasis
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, aortofemoral or other vascular bypass grafts
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, valve replacement
    • Aneurysms
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, vascular stent placement
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, defibrillator implant
    • Ischemic conditions, intermediate coronary syndrome
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures intraaortic balloon pump

    Diagnoses Seen Occasionally 

    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, aortic aneurysm repair
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, aortic dissection repair
    • Pericarditis
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, ventricular assist device placement
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, heart transplant
    • Congenital defects, septal
    • Ischemic conditions, Prinzmetal's angina

    Diagnoses Seen Rarely 

    • Congenital defects, patent ductus arteriosus
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
    • Status post invasive or surgical procedures, correction of congenital heart defects
    • Lymphedema
    • Congenital defects, coarctation of the aorta
    • Lymphadenopathy
    • Congenital defects, tetralogy of Fallot
    • Congenital defects, common ventricle
    • Congenital defects, transposition of great vessels
    • Congenital defects, Eisenmenger's syndrome

    Pulmonary Diagnoses

    Diagnoses Seen Frequently 

    • Pulmonary edema
    • Emphysema/bronchitis (acute or chronic)
    • Pulmonary artery hypertension/primary pulmonary hypertension
    • Asthma
    • Pneumonia (bacterial, viral, pneumococcal, aspiration, bronchopneumonia)
    • Atelectasis, adult primary
    • Pulmonary effusion
    • High risk for development of pulmonary disease or complications
    • Acute respiratory failure
    • Status post surgical procedure, abdominal surgery
    • Postoperative pulmonary complications (other than atelectasis)
    • Status post surgical procedure, tracheotomy
    • Acute upper-respiratory infection
    • Pneumothorax
    • Status post surgical procedure, other thoracic surgery
    • Adult respiratory distress syndrome
    • Pulmonary embolism
    • Bronchiectasis
    • Pulmonary fibrosis, primary/idiopathic
    • Neoplastic diseases, carcinoma in situ (bronchus/lung)
    • Orthopedic impairment, fractured ribs

    Diagnoses Seen Occasionally 

    • Orthopedic impairment, kyphoscoliosis
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Neoplastic diseases, malignant neoplasm (trachea/bronchus/lung/larynx/pleura)
    • Status post surgical procedure, lung reduction, or resection
    • Influenza
    • Status post surgical procedure, lung transplant (single or double)
    • Bronchiolitis
    • Pulmonary fibrosis, iatrogenic (radiation/chemotherapy)
    • Lung abscess
    • Emphysema
    • Status post surgical procedure, esophagectomy
    • Orthopedic impairment, flail chest
    • Spinal cord lesion or injury, cervical
    • Sarcoidosis

    Diagnoses Seen Rarely 

    • Graph versus host disease
    • Spinal cord lesion or injury, thoracic
    • Spinal cord lesion or injury, lumbosacral
    • Pneumoconiosis
    • Tuberculosis
    • Bronchopulmonary displasia (BPD)
    • Status post surgical procedure, heart-lung transplant
    • Atelectasis, newborn
    • Hepatopulmonary syndrome
    • Meconium aspiration
  • Last Updated: 6/20/2017
    Contact: spec-cert@apta.org