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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jun;46(6):706-11.

The clinical utility of a six-minute walk test in peripheral arterial occlusive disease patients.

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Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA.



To determine the test-retest reliability of the distance covered and the steps taken to complete a 6-minute walk test by peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) patients with intermittent claudication. To determine the relationship between the total distance and steps covered during the 6-minute walk test and clinical measures of PAOD severity.


Cross-sectional design.


The Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.


Sixty-four PAOD patients between the ages of 45 and 88 years (age = 68 +/- 7 years, ankle/brachial index (ABI) = .61 +/- .19) were recruited from the Vascular Clinic at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center and from radio and newspaper advertisements.


Patients were assessed on a 6-minute walk test and a treadmill graded exercise test. A second 6-minute walk test was administered approximately 1 week later. Patients also were characterized in regard to blood pressure in the arms and legs, ABI, anthropometry, body composition, and physical activity.


The distances walked during the two 6-minute walk tests were similar (350 +/- 78 m vs 360 +/- 73 m), resulting in a high reliability coefficient (R = .94) and a low coefficient of variation (10.4%). The total steps taken during the 6-minute walk test also were similar (562 +/- 113 steps vs 587 +/- 107 steps), resulting in a high reliability coefficient (R = .90) and a low coefficient of variation (11.7%). Furthermore, the 6-minute walking distance correlated with the distances to onset (r = .346, P = .007) and with maximal claudication pain (r = .525, P < .001) during the treadmill test as well as with ABI (r = .552, P < .001).


The 6-minute walk test yields highly reliable measurements, which are related to the functional and hemodynamic severity of PAOD, in patients with intermittent claudication.

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