Why do doctors recommend 6MWT?

The heart and the lungs are two main organs of the human body. If either of them stops functioning properly, the patient can suffer major health hazards. Thus, if you have underdone cardiac or pulmonary treatment, it is important to check the physical activity level. People who face heart or lung issues usually have problems in moving properly. Apart from medication, their performance in terms of physical movement has to be checked properly. For this purpose, 6 minute walk test is a commendable testing option. This test is recommended by medical expert for checking patients who have been taking medicines to cure the heart or lung.

6MWT- How does it work?

As it is very much apparent from the name, the patient who takes 6MWT is required to walk for a total time span of 6 minutes.  Here are some other points which explain the working process of this test.

  • Normally, it is expected that the patient would walk continuously for a span of 6 minutes without stopping in between. However, in case of heart and lung patients, it is very much expected that the patient may stop walking suddenly. In such cases, if the patient stops walking during the test due to loss of breath, he can take a break and then resume walking at the earliest.
  • No exercises or physical activity should be done before the test. As a patient, you should be physically fresh before the test is initiated. Appearing for the test with an exhausted body is obviously not recommended.

Precautions required

Some precautions have to be taken by patients when they are performing the 6-minute walk test. Here are some precautions which have to be taken before the test is carried out.

  • The patient should rest for a minimum time span of 15 minutes before the test is taken. This helps in keeping the patient in an energetic state before the test has been carried out. At times, patients get exhausted during the course of the test. If the patient rests before the test, he is able to complete it without any obstacle.
  • Some medical details of the patient have to be recorded before the test starts. Medical professionals have to record the blood pressure, oxygen saturation and heart rate before the test starts.
  • The patient should not eat anything for a minimum of 1 hour before the test. If there is an intake of food right before the test, it can surely hamper the performance and even prevent the test from being completed properly. Hence, it is necessary that the consumption of food should be stopped one hour before the test has been taken.
  • This test requires the patient to wear appropriate clothes and footwear. Heavy clothing should be avoided as it can have a negative impact on the mobility of the patient.

Reasons why 6-minute walk test is recommended

Heart and lung diseases required long term medication and during the course of treatment, the patient has to be tested in a lot of ways. If the patient is not tested, it would hard to determine whether the treatment is producing the desired results or not. At times, the patient undergoes treatment for a long period of time but there is no improvement in his condition. If the condition of the patient is checked well before time, the treatment process can be altered. Here are some major reasons why the 6-minute walk test is recommended.

1.   Treatment effects

As it has been mentioned above, the treatment of heart and lung patients is lengthy and they have to take medical drugs for a long span of time. It is not a good alternative to give medications without seeing the effect. This does happen in a lot of cases. With the 6-minute walk test, the effectiveness of medicines can be determined. The performance of this test is used by medical professionals to judge the condition of patients. If the patient is unable to complete the test, it simply means that other medical treatment options have to be used to improve the condition of the patient.

2.   Post Treatment Medical Diagnosis

Heart problems have to be treated properly to avoid a major relapse. Same is the case with lung problems. A heart patient may look perfectly fine when he is lying on the bed. His actual condition can be determined when he starts walking. Thus, through the 6-minute walk test, you can determine the actual condition of the patient. For instance, people who have undergone treatment for major lung disorders look fine until they get involved in a physical activity. Once they are required to walk, it becomes apparent about whether the treatment has been effective or not.

When does the test have to be stopped in between?

It is important to stop the test in midway if certain serious signs have been noticed. Here are some signs which you have to watch out for.

1.      Loss of Focus and Coordination

During the test, a patient be unable to focus on things properly and lose focus. Medical professionals who are monitoring the test have to keep their eyes open for this.  The patient has to be monitored at all times when the test is being performed. If the patient is unable to concentrate, the test should be discontinued on immediate basis.

2.   Potential Angina Attacks

In case of heart patients, a potential relapse is very much expected and this is one thing which becomes apparent through the 6-minute walk test. If the patient experiences any form of chest pain, the test should be discontinued without any further delay.


It is important to determine whether a medical treatment is creating the desired effect or not. At times, a patient suffers a relapse when he performs a physical activity. For instance, someone who has suffered a heart attack may get a relapse during the 6-minute walk test. This is obviously a sign that the patient has not recovered properly and the treatment procedures have to be modified.