Walk Test to Predict Heart Disease
Data from the "Heart and Soul Study" published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the addition of a simple six-minute walking test, or 6MWT,to traditionalprognostic tools for coronary heart disease improved risk prediction and was comparable with treadmill exercise capacity.
Lead author Alexis L. Beatty, MD of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues instructed participants to walk continuously on a 145.5 foot hospital corridor, covering as much ground as they could during six minutes. The researchers encouraged the walkers every minute and recorded how far each one walked in six minutes.
"For patients with stable coronary heart disease, prognostic models based on traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors do not fully explain the risk of future cardiovascular events," the authors wrote. "Exercise treadmill testing provides information regarding prognosis in patients with stable CHD, but testing can be costly and time-consuming, especially if testing is bundled with imaging studies that may be unnecessary in stable patients."
Beatty and his team tested 556 patients and conducted annual follow-up telephone interviews with the participants or their proxies about emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or death. They found that shorter distances on the 6MWT were associated with higher rates of heart failure, myocardial infarction, and death, independent of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors and markers of cardiac disease severity.
"These findings suggest that a simple 6MWT is a useful prognostic marker for identifying patients with CHD at high risk of cardiovascular events," the authors concluded.