The six-minute walk test predicts peak oxygen uptake and survival in patients with advanced heart failure

L P Cahalin, M A Mathier, M J Semigran, G W Dec, T G DiSalvo
Chest 1996, 110 (2): 325-32

BACKGROUND: The 6-min walk test (6'WT) is a simple measure of functional capacity and predicts survival in patients with moderate heart failure (HF).

METHODS: To assess the role of the 6'WT in the evaluation of patients with advanced HF, 45 patients (age 49 +/- 8 years, mean +/- SD; New York Heart Association class 3.3 +/- 0.6; left ventricular ejection fraction 0.20 +/- 0.06; right ventricular ejection fraction 0.31 +/- 0.11) underwent symptom-limited cardiopulmonary exercise testing and the 6'WT during cardiac transplant evaluation.

RESULTS: Mean 6'WT distance ambulated was 310 +/- 100 m and peak oxygen uptake (peak Vo2) was 12.2 +/- 4.5 mL/kg/min. There was a significant correlation between 6'WT distance ambulated and peak Vo2 (r = 0.64, p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis of patient characteristics, resting hemodynamics, and 6'WT results identified the distance ambulated during the 6'WT as the strongest predictor of peak Vo2 (p < 0.001). 6'WT distance ambulated less than 300 m predicted an increased likelihood of death or pretransplant hospital admission for continuous inotropic or mechanical support within 6 months (p = 0.04), but did not predict long-term overall or event-free survival with a mean follow-up of 62 weeks. Peak Vo2 was the best predictor of long-term overall and event-free survival.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with advanced HF evaluated for cardiac transplantation, distance ambulated during the 6'WT predicts (1) peak Vo2 and (2) short-term event-free survival.

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