What is the six-minute walk test (6mwt) in pulmonary function testing?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Kevin McCarthy, RPFT; Chief Editor: Nader Kamangar, MD, FACP, FCCP, FCCM  more...
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The six-minute walk test (6mwt) is a test that can aid in assessing the functional capacity of patients with cardiopulmonary disease. The patient is instructed to walk as far as possible on a straight track, ideally 100 feet in length. Patients are advised that they can set their own pace and can pause to rest, if needed, but should resume walking as soon as they are able. If the patient does pause to rest, the elapsed timer for the test continues. Obtaining the total distance walked (six-minute walk distance [6mwd]) is the primary objective of the test, although the estimation of arterial oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry and the patient’s assessment of dyspnea and fatigue during the walk are typically collected. The test is increasingly used as a clinical tool, with reference equations now available for predicting a normal 6mwd and lower limit of normal. The minimum clinically important difference (MCID) for the 6mwd is 30 m in patients with IPF, PAH, or COPD. [16, 17, 18, 19]

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