Published: 2016-12-29

Study to find out the efficacy of 6 minute walk test in assessing response to medical intervention in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients

Beena Thomas, P. Sukumaran


Background: The accurate diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has always been difficult due to the subjective nature of most investigations. Spirometry has been traditionally used as a method for diagnosis of COPD and also assessing the progression of disease and response to treatment. The 6 minute walk test (6MWT) is a newer testing modality recommended by American thoracic society for assessing the effect of treatment on patients with COPD. The study was to find out the efficacy of the 6MWT in assessing response to medical intervention in patients suffering from COPD.  

Methods: Those patients admitted with a diagnosis of COPD on the basis of clinical or radiological findings were included in the study. The 6 minute walk test (6MWT) was performed in a secured 30 meter straight corridor, situated inside the hospital campus. Later spirometric evaluation was done for all participants, with measurement of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC), before and after administration of an inhaled bronchodilatory agent.

Results: A total of 52 participants were enrolled into the study. Six minute walk distance had a significant positive correlation with forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and body mass index. All the participants were reassessed after 4 months of medical management. Both males and females showed a significant improvement in 6MWD, and both the genders showed less breathlessness as measured using BORG dyspnea scale.

Conclusions: Six minute walk test (6MWT) is a cost-effective modality which can assess the lung function and response to treatment in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Also, it shows significant positive correlation with findings of a spirometry test. Therefore it can be recommended as a screening modality to assess pulmonary function in patients suffering from COPD, especially in low-resource settings.



Six minute walk test, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Spirometry, Breathlessness

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