[Evaluation of exercise capacity in pulmonary arterial hypertension]

Rengin Demir, Mehmet Serdar Küçükoğlu
Türk Kardiyoloji Derneği Arşivi: Türk Kardiyoloji Derneğinin Yayın Organıdır 2010, 38 (8): 580-8
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a life-threatening disease characterized by increased pulmonary vascular resistance that leads to right ventricular failure. The most common clinical features of PAH are dyspnea and exercise intolerance. Measurement of exercise capacity is of considerable importance for the assessment of disease severity as well as routine monitoring of disease. Maximal, symptom-limited, cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) is the gold standard for the evaluation of exercise capacity, whereby functions of several systems involved in exercise can be assessed, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic systems. However, in order to derive the most useful diagnostic information on physiologic limitations to exercise, CPET requires maximal effort of the patient, which can be difficult and risky for some severely ill patients. Moreover, it requires specific exercise equipment and measurement systems, and experienced and trained personnel. Thus, routine clinical use of CPET to assess exercise capacity in patients with PAH may not always be feasible. A practical and simple alternative to CPET to determine exercise capacity is the 6-minute walk test (6MWT). It is simple to perform, safe, and reproducible. In contrast to CPET, the 6MWT reflects a submaximal level of exertion that is more consistent with the effort required for daily physical activities. This review focuses on the role of CPET and 6MWT in patients with PAH.

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