Arq Bras Cardiol 2009 Apr;92(4):312-9
Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Background: The 6-minute walk test (6WT) has been used as a means of assessment of the functional capacity, clinical staging and cardiovascular prognosis. Its safety and metabolic impact have not been frequently described in the literature, especially in patients with severe heart failure with clinical indication for cardiovascular transplantation.
Objective: To evaluate the occurrence of arrhythmias and cardiovascular changes during 6WT. To correlate 6WT performance with clinical staging and cardiovascular prognosis.
Methods: Twelve patients, 10 of whom males, aged 52 +/- 8 years were evaluated at baseline. 6WT was performed with telemetry electrocardiography, vital signs and lactate monitoring. The patients were followed-up for 12 months.
Results: The patients walked 399.4+/-122.5 (D, m), reaching a perceived exertion (PE) of 14.3+/-1.5 and a 34% baseline heart rate variation. Two patients presented more severe pre-6WT arrhythmia which did not worsen with the exercise, four patients presented a significant increase of blood lactate levels (>5 mmol/dl), and three interrupted the test. The distance walked correlated with the ejection fraction (%) and functional class (NYHA). After 12-month follow-up, three patients died and seven were rehospitalized for cardiac decompensation. The D/PE ratio and 2-minute heart rate recovery (HRR2, bpm) were lower in the death group.
Conclusion: The clinical and electrocardiographic behaviors suggest that the method is safe, but it may be considered too strenuous for some patients with severe heart failure. Variables related to 6WT performance may be associated with the one-year follow-up mortality.