Should the 6-minute walk test be stopped if oxyhemoglobin saturation falls below 80%?

AuthorsAfzal, Sumbla
Burge, Angela T.
Lee, Annemarie L.
Bondarenko, Janet
Holland, Anne E.
TypeJournal Article (Original Research)
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine
PubMed ID30130517
Year of Publication2018
AbstractTo examine the occurrence of adverse events in patients undergoing assessment for pulmonary rehabilitation when a 6-minute walk test (6MWT) continues despite desaturation below 80%. Objective: To examine the occurrence of adverse events in patients undergoing assessment for pulmonary rehabilitation when a 6-minute walk test (6MWT) continues despite desaturation below 80%. Design: Retrospective audit following REporting of studies Conducted using Observational Routinely-collected health Data (RECORD) Statement. Setting: Large teaching hospital. Participants: All patients assessed for pulmonary rehabilitation (September 2005 to January 2016). Interventions: The standardized tests were conducted by experienced cardiorespiratory physiotherapists. Oxyhemoglobin saturation was monitored continuously using a pulse oximeter (lowest value used for analysis). Medical records were reviewed, and adverse events defined as tachycardia, bradycardia, chest pain or other sign/symptom necessitating cessation. Main outcome measure: 6MWT. Results: Data from 672 walk tests were included (55% men, mean age 69 (standard deviation 11) years) with mean distance 369 (124) meters. The main diagnoses were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (70%), interstitial lung disease (14%) and bronchiectasis (8%). Sixty individuals (11%) recorded desaturation below 80% without adverse events. Two adverse events were recorded during tests without desaturation; in one instance, chest pain with no evidence of cardiorespiratory compromise and in another, the patient stopped due to concern regarding blood sugar levels (11.5 mmol/L when tested). Independent predictors of desaturation to less than 80% were resting oxyhemoglobin saturation < 95% (odds ratio 3.82, 95% confidence interval 2.06 to 7.08) and a diagnosis of interstitial lung disease or pulmonary arterial hypertension (OR 5.24, 2.59 to 10.58). Conclusions: This study found that desaturation to less than 80% during a 6MWT was not associated with adverse events in a large cohort of patients referred to pulmonary rehabilitation and assessed by experienced physiotherapists, suggesting that test cessation due to desaturation in stable patients may be unwarranted.

< More publications


Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a chronic lung condition that causes stiff lungs and restricts sufferers from taking a deep breath. Exercise in a gym, such as walking or riding a bike, can help make...


Each year in Australia 260 people sustain a SCI, with over half losing full function in their arms and legs (quadriplegia). In addition to the primary disability, there is a very high rate of Obstructive...

Do you have Spinal cord injury? Tired?  Get treated!DO YOU HAVE SPINAL CORD INJURY? TIRED? GET TREATED!

Melbourne researchers have found that 80 percent of people with quadriplegic spinal injuries have sleep apnoea. It's having a big effect on their lives but they don't know they have it, and they don't know it can be treated.

World 1st heavy vehicle driver fatigue study releasedWORLD 1ST HEAVY VEHICLE DRIVER FATIGUE STUDY RELEASED

The National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) have released the results of what is hailed as a world-first study into heavy vehicle driver fatigue.

AAMRI Election Statement released on 25th March 2019AAMRI ELECTION STATEMENT RELEASED ON 25TH MARCH 2019

AAMRI released its election statement calling on politicians to commit to three main priorities: ensuring the MRFF reaches $20 billion by 2020-21, provide continued strong support for the NHMRC, and develop sustainable and rewarding career pathways.

Portrait unveiled at Canberra's Parliament HousePORTRAIT UNVEILED AT CANBERRA'S PARLIAMENT HOUSE

IBAS Director Anna Burke had barely got into the swing of her speech at the unveiling of her portrait at Canberra's Parliament House when the ringing of bells caused half her audience to hurry away.

Institute for Breathing and Sleep

Level 5, Harold Stokes Building, Austin Hospital
145 Studley Road
Heidelberg, Victoria, 3084

(03) 9496 5390

Email Us