Prahm, Kira Philipsen2; Witting, Nanna2; Vissing, John3
1 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
OBJECTIVE: The 6-minute walk test is widely used to assess functional status in neurological disorders. However, the test is subject to great inter-test variability due to fluctuating motivation, fatigue and learning effects. We investigated whether inter-test variability of the 6MWT can be reduced by heart rate correction. METHODS: Sixteen patients with neuromuscular diseases, including Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooths, Dystrophia Myotonica and Congenital Myopathy and 12 healthy subjects were studied. Patients were excluded if they had cardiac arrhythmias, if they received drug treatment for hypertension or any other medical conditions that could interfere with the interpretation of the heart rate and walking capability. All completed three 6-minute walk tests on three different test-days. Heart rate was measured continuously. RESULTS: Successive standard 6-minute walk tests showed considerable learning effects between Tests 1 and 2 (4.9%; P = 0.026), and Tests 2 and 3 (4.5%; P = 0.020) in patients. The same was seen in controls between Tests 1 and 2 (8.1%; P = 0.039)). Heart rate correction abolished this learning effect. CONCLUSION: A modified 6-minute walk test, by correcting walking distance with average heart rate during walking, decreases the variability among repeated 6-minute walk tests, and should be considered as an alternative outcome measure to the standard 6-minute walk test in future clinical follow-up and treatment trials.