Six-minute Walk Test

What is the 6-Minute Walk Test (6 MWT)?

The 6-minute walk test measures the distance a person is able to walk over a span of 6 minutes on a flat, hard surface. The 6 MWT renders information concerning functional capacity, response to therapy, and prognosis for a broad spectrum of heart and lung conditions.

Indications for 6-Minute Walk Test (6 MWT)?

The 6 MWT is mainly indicated for patients with cardiopulmonary disease to assess response to surgical or medical intervention. It is also employed to assess functional status and evaluate the prognosis of several conditions.

Information from a 6 MWT can help assess treatment for conditions such as:

  • Coronary artery disease/cardiac rehabilitation
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Peripheral arterial disease

Contraindications for 6-Minute Walk Test (6 MWT)?

6 MWT is contraindicated in patients with unstable angina or myocardial infarction (heart attack) in the previous month. It is also not advised if regular walking can lead to

  • Respiratory distress
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Arrhythmia

Preparations for 6-Minute Walk Test (6 MWT)

As part of preparation for a 6 MWT, you are advised to:

  • Refrain from strenuous activity 2 hours prior to the test
  • Avoid a heavy meal before the test
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
  • Take your usual medications

What Happens During 6-Minute Walk Test (6 MWT)

The 6 MWT is performed in a facility with a pre-measured walking track and turn around points.

  • Refrain from doing a warm-up prior to the test
  • Relax for 10 minutes before the test
  • Your pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels are measured before you begin walking
  • You need to walk at your normal pace for 6 minutes back and forth between the turning points
  • Inform the staff if you notice any difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • You may slow down, rest, or stop the test if necessary
  • You will be updated at 1-minute intervals during the procedure

Interpretation of Test Results

The test readings are compared with what is regarded as normal for individuals of your height, weight, age, and gender. This information can help your doctor evaluate your condition or treatment response and initiate a change in medication or exercise regimen if necessary.