—To study the potential usefulness of the 6-minute walk test, a self-paced submaximal exercise test, as a prognostic indicator in patients with left ventricular dysfunction.
—Data were collected during a prospective cohort study, the Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction (SOLVD) Registry Substudy.
—Twenty tertiary care hospitals in the United States, Canada, and Belgium.
—A stratified random sample of 898 patients from the SOLVD Registry who had either radiological evidence of congestive heart failure and/or an ejection fraction of 0.45 or less were enrolled in the substudy and underwent a detailed clinical evaluation including a 6-minute walk test. Patients were followed up for a mean of 242 days.
—Mortality and hospitalization.
—During follow-up, 52 walk-test participants (6.2%) died and 252 (30.3%) were hospitalized. Hospitalization for congestive heart failure occurred in 78 participants (9.4%), and the combined endpoint of death or hospitalization for congestive heart failure occurred in 114 walk-test participants (13.7%). Compared with the highest performance level, patients in the lowest performance level had a significantly greater chance of dying (10.23% vs 2.99%; P=.01), of being hospitalized (40.91% vs 19.90%; P=.002), and of being hospitalized for heart failure (22.16% vs 1.99%; P<.0001). In a logistic regression model, ejection fraction and distance walked were equally strong and independent predictors of mortality and heart failure hospitalization rates during follow-up.
—The 6-minute walk test is a safe and simple clinical tool that strongly and independently predicts morbidity and mortality in patients with left ventricular dysfunction.(JAMA. 1993;270:1702-1707)