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The 6-minute walk test in scleroderma--how measuring everything measures nothing

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The 6-minute walk test in scleroderma--how measuring everything measures nothing.


Never fully validated in scleroderma, a variety of data suggest that many non-pulmonary aspects of scleroderma contribute to its results thereby blunting the ability of the 6MWT to measure change in lung function. (UnBound MedLine) Impens AJ. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2008 Oct.:v68-9. (Also see: Pulmonary Diagnosis and Pulmonary Fibrosis)


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I was always told the 6 minute walk was more a general, non-invasive measure to track ability and state-of-health. It can throw up a red flag for lung function and PAH, but is not specific for it. To me, it seems to be an easy and inexpensive way to track activity level....


Maybe they address this in the full text.



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Six months ago I wasn't able to walk 3 minutes on the treadmill much less 6 minutes. I do have lung problems and require O2 when I exercise and sleep, but it turned out that the inability to exercise was not due to my lungs alone, but to my pacemaker! The cardiologist that "installed" it in January of 2005 apparently never really programmed it correctly and I couldn't tell. I just thought it was the lungs, the heart and everything else. I FINALLY fired the guy after he told me "There's no more I can do for you". My new cardiologist discovered the missed programming on the first visit after listening to my symptoms and checking the pacemaker. She adjusted it (3 times) and then sent me to cardiac rehab. I have now "graduated" from cardiac rehab. Yesterday I walked for 40 minutes on the treadmill!!!! I still have to wear my O2, but HEY - I'm doing it and loving it! So for me it showed that failing a diagnostic test could be attributed to many things, not just one thing. I keep that in mind for all my tests.


Big Hugs,

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The six minute walk test...... what a load of garbage. I had one as a baseline test 18 months ago, the tech told me to walk a normal pace for the whole 6 minutes. When I saw my Cardiologist I told him why I thought the six minute walk test was a load of rubbish, I couldn't see the point in it. I told him that the tech told me to walk at a normal pace and he agreed that there was no point in it if I was able to walk faster.


My Cardiologist said that the whole thing needed to be reviewed and he would get the techs to be retrained properly. I now have to get another 6 minute walk test in a couple of months as well as an ECHO.


Take care


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I always thought the six minute walk only pointed out very severe pulmonary problems.


I noticed my lung deficiencies while in a strong exercise regimen (vigorous swimming, walking miles a day). I only noticed it when I had to take breaks from swimming to catch my breath, while people in far worse shape swam past me.


The six minute walk, on a flat surface, was easy to go very fast, leading to a diagnosis of no problem at all. But had I walked up hill, it would have been obvious. Compared with anyone else in the shape I was in, I was a mess.


Your lungs can be quite limited while still being able to walk a fast clip on a flat surface.


Again, how you must fight for a diagnosis.



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I've had the 6 minute walk test done twice since being diagnosed 1/07. Both times I was told to walk as fast as I could and I wore an oxygen monitor (carried by the tech). I was told they were looking at the consistency of my walking (if I could keep the pace I started with), my breathing pattern (if it got inconsistent and labored) my oxygen level and fatigue level afterwards. I did walk on a flat surface in the hallways of the facility. Because of that and patients waiting being able to see me, I just felt silly.

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