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Walking test can help predict heart failure, heart attack, death in patients with coronary heart disease, study shows

Walking on the SidewalkRetired Syracuse cardiologist David Nash reviewed a study comparing a 6-minute walking test with a more expensive cardiac stress test for the ability to recognize which patients with coronary heart disease are at greatest risk for heart failure, heart attack or death.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco said the simple walking test "improved risk prediction and was comparable with treadmill exercise capacity," in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Nash said in his review that he would "recommend that physicians interested in improving their patients' level of fitness use the (6-minute walking test) as a means of getting the patient started on regular exercise. Once the patients become familiar with the ease and safety of the (walking test), they can be encouraged to repeat the (walking test) more frequently, even on a daily basis. It is then possible to lengthen the walk at appropriate intervals.

"The (walking test) allows convenient assessment of the patient's cardiovascular disease risk factors and can help guide personalized risk factor reduction based on lifestyle measures—diet, physical activity, and control of blood pressure and lipid levels.

Nash is a member of Upstate's voluntary faculty.

Read the MedPage Today article

Read the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine

Read Dr. Nash's invited commentary in the Archives