Six Minute Walk Test
Cardiac Services Infoline

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What is a Six Minute Walk Test?

The six minute walk test, also referred to as 6MWT is a simple and safe way to measure how far you can walk on a flat surface for exactly six minutes. It is a useful way to measure general health and exercise capacity for those living with heart and lung conditions such as pulmonary hypertension, heart disease or COPD (conditions that affect your airways). The six minute walk test will tell your doctor how well your heart and lungs respond to the exercise, which provides information about your general fitness as well as how well your current treatment is working. The results will help inform future treatment and exercise recommendations.

How does it work?

The six minute walk test is usually performed in a large space, big enough for you to move around continuously and safely. It should be a flat surfaced track with a minimum continuous length of around 15m. The goal is to walk at the patient’s own pace as far as possible within the six minutes. Blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse rate and breathlessness are all measured before the test begins, and again at the end of the six minutes. The patient may slow down or take a break whenever necessary. The time is recorded, and the patient score is calculated by multiplying the number of lengths covered by the distance of the track, to give a final distance covered. 

Why do I need it?

The six minute walk test is a useful way for your doctor to evaluate your overall fitness, and can provide information about the effectiveness of your current treatment pathway. The results will demonstrate how well your heart and lungs responds to exercise, demonstrate your general health, and indicate whether any adjustments are required for the future. The six minute walk test is especially important for patients suffering from ongoing health conditions such as pulmonary hypertension and heart disease.

What does the Six Minute Walk Test show?

Your doctor may recommend the six minute walk test to assess how well your heart and lungs function on a daily basis, and to assess the effectiveness of current treatments. There are many factors that can affect your score such as age, health and gender. A lower score will reflect a lower functioning ability, with a higher score correlating to a higher functioning ability. Both may result in a change of treatment or exercise plan, prompt different decisions, check the effectiveness of certain procedures, or determine the severity of a diagnosed heart condition.

What's next?

If you have been experiencing heart-related symptoms, book an appointment with our cardiac services specialist today.

Have questions?

Unsure about your next steps? Get in touch today, we’re here to help.

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