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Can Respir J. 2015 Jul-Aug;22(4):225-9.

Six minute walk distance is a predictor of survival in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive and distressing disease with a trajectory that is often difficult to predict.


To determine whether initial 6 min walk distance (6MWD) or change in 6MWD following inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) predicted survival.


Patients referred for PR in 2010 were studied in a retrospective chart review. Measures of 6MWD before and following PR were recorded. Initial 6MWD was categorized as ≥250 m, 150 m to 249 m and ≤149 m. Government databases provided survival status up until December 2013 and survival analyses were performed. Initial 6MWD and a minimally important difference (MID) of ≥30 m were used for survival analysis.


The cohort consisted of 237 patients (92 men, 145 women) with severe COPD. Mean (± SD) forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) was 0.75±0.36 L, with a mean FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio of 0.57±0.16. Overall three-year survival was 58%. Mean survival for the study period as per predefined categories of 6MWD of ≥250 m, 150 m to 249 m and ≤149 m was 42.2, 37.0 and 27.8 months (P<0.001), respectively, with a three-year survival of 81%, 66% and 34% observed, respectively. Overall mean change in 6MWD was 62±57 m, and a minimal improvement of ≥30 m was observed in 72% of patients. In the lowest walking group, early mortality was significantly higher among those who did not achieve minimal improvement. Older age, male sex and shorter initial 6MWD were negative predictors of survival.


In patients with severe COPD, initial 6MWD was predictive of survival. Overall survival at three years was only 58% and was especially poor (34%) in patients with low (<150 m) initial walk distance.

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