BACKGROUND: The 6-minute walk and heart rate variability have been used to assess mortality risk in patients with heart failure, but their relationship to each other and their usefulness for predicting mortality at 1 year are unknown. OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationships between the 6-minute walk test, heart rate variability, and 1-year mortality. METHOD: A sample of 113 patients in advanced stages of heart failure (New York Heart Association Functional Class III-IV, left ventricular ejection < 0.25) were studied. All 6-minute walks took place in an enclosed, level, measured corridor and were supervised by the same nurse. Heart rate variability was measured by using (1) a standard-deviation method and (2) Poincare plots. Data on RR intervals obtained by using 24-hour Holter monitoring were analyzed. Survival was determined at 1 year after the Holter recording. RESULTS: The results showed no significant associations between the results of the 6-minute walk and the two measures of heart rate variability. The results of the walk were related to 1-year mortality but not to the risk of sudden death. Both measures of heart rate variability had significant associations with 1-year mortality and with sudden death. However, only heart rate variability measured by using Poincare plots was a predictor of total mortality and risk of sudden death, independent of left ventricular ejection fraction, serum levels of sodium, results of the 6-minute walk test, and the standard-deviation measure of heart rate variability. CONCLUSIONS: Results of the 6-minute walk have poor association with mortality and the two measures of heart rate variability in patients with advanced-stage heart failure and a low ejection fraction. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal clinical usefulness of the 6-minute walk and heart rate variability in patients with advanced-stage heart failure.
Six-minute walk test and heart rate variability: lack of association in advanced stages of heart failure
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MA Woo, DK Moser, LW Stevenson, WG Stevenson; Six-minute walk test and heart rate variability: lack of association in advanced stages of heart failure. Am J Crit Care 1 September 1997; 6 (5): 348–354. doi: https://doi.org/10.4037/ajcc19188.8.131.528
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