Study objectives: To describe the results of the 6-min walking test performed on admission to an intensive rehabilitation program after cardiac surgery and to develop, through an algorithm based on a few clinical indicators, reference tables in order to apply distance walked values more efficiently in the individual patient at his/her entry into a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Setting: Intensive cardiac rehabilitation units.
Patients and intervention: A total of 2,555 consecutive patients admitted between January 2001 and December 2002 to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department of the S. Maugeri Foundation early after cardiac surgery performed a 6-min walking test within the fourth day of hospital admission.
Results: The mean walked distance was 296 ± 111 m (± SD). At multiple regression analysis, age, sex, and comorbidity were independent predictors of walking test performance. The left ventricular ejection fraction only influenced the walked distance in men. Starting from these variables, we propose an algorithm and specific reference tables.
Conclusions: Reference values for gender-, age-, comorbidity-, and systolic function-related test performance in patients after cardiac surgery at the beginning of the rehabilitative phase are provided. Once a new patient has been categorized through simple parameters, the actual distance walked could be compared with the matched reference value, thus making the interpretation of the result more efficient. The walked distance might be used to define different levels of disability and to personalize therapeutic exercise prescriptions.