'Walk This Way' to Reduce Blood Pressure

Pulmonary hypertension reduced with exercise

(RxWiki News) Walking is a great low-impact exercise that can lead to better health. A new study shows that a walking test can predict if a patient's pulmonary hypertension will worsen.

A recent study identified the six-minute walking distance (6MWD) test as a way to predict if idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension will worsen. The 6MWD test can also predict how long it will take for pulmonary hypertension to worsen. This easy and affordable test can be used by doctors to better treat and monitor patients.

"Ask your doctor about new tways to reduce pulmonary hypertension."

Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs. Some problems involved with pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and fatigue.

The 6MWD test is a simple test that measures the distance a patient walks in a six-minute. In the study published by the American Thoracic Society, how fast the heart recovers after a minute of rest can indicate if a patient's pulmonary hypertension will worsen.

Trying to predict if a patient's pulmonary hypertension will worsen required a lot of complicated tests according to Omar A. Minai, M.D., staff physician in the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. The 6MWD is easy to set up, easy to measure and free.

The study involved 75 patients with pulmonary hypertension taking the 6MWD test and having their heart rate measured after the test was completed. After a minute of rest, their heart rate was measure again. Patients with a heart rate recovery of less than 16 beats were more likely to have their pulmonary hypertension worsen.

Worsening of pulmonary hypertension included a patient needing more therapy because of pulmonary hypertension, a lung transplant, future hospitalization and death. Patients with a recovery rate of less than 16 beats had a greater risk to have pulmonary hypertension deteriorate.

The time it took for symptoms to get worse was also shorter in patients who had a recovery rate of less than 16 beats. The rate of deterioration was a little close to 7 months for patients with a lower heart rate recovery compared to 13 months for patients with a heart rate recovery above 16.

Future studies can test how accurate the 6MWD test can be for other types of pulmonary hypertension. Other tests can determine if the 6MWD test can be used to test possible treatment response. For now, the 6MWD test can be used as a cost-effective, easy way to evaluate a patient's pulmonary hypertension and provide better treatment options. 

This study was published in the November edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Review Date: 
November 22, 2011