Healthy Living

Study Highlights Role of 6-Minute Walk Test in Predicting the Severity of Sleep Apnea

Study Highlights Role of 6-Minute Walk Test in Predicting the Severity of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) happens when there is a blockage in your upper airway, which causes your breathing to stop momentarily during your sleep. Aside from insomnia, sleep apnea is considered as one of the most common sleep disorders. No matter how common, people with OSA have to know that it needs to be treated right away to avoid cardiovascular, metabolic, and cerebral problems.

This sleep disorder can lead to a decreased amount of physical activity, which also leads to obesity. It is essential for patients to be diagnosed with sleep apnea as early as possible so that they could begin treatment. According to new research, experts can now detect sleep apnea in patients with a 6-minute walk.

The 6-minute walk test is typically used for patients at-risk for cardiovascular diseases

The six-minute walk test is typically used to analyze the physical risks and capabilities of a patient for cardiovascular disease. The distance a patient could walk within 6 minutes would indicate the amount of oxygen that a patient uses. If a patient fails to perform well, then it could mean that they are at-risk for sleep apnea or already have it.

The small study was observed patients with obstructive sleep apnea over the course of one year.  The group of patients was mixed with males and females, and each patient was diagnosed with sleep apnea with a polysomnography. They had to have a confirmed diagnosis of sleep apnea before they were analyzed by a 6-minute walk.

With this study, researchers were able to analyze the severity of these patients' sleep apnea with the completion of this 6-minute walk. There were also able to find no differences between both genders.

The connection between the completion of the walk test and the severity of sleep apnea indicates the importance of detecting the sleep disorder as early as possible. If left undetected and untreated over a long period of time, the condition can greatly limit the functional capability of a patient.

These results were likewise connected to participants with a higher body mass index (BMI). Those who walked distances that were shorter during the six-minute time frame also weighed heavier than those who walked farther distances. 

Read on to learn more about the 6-minute walk test and other diagnostic tests that are developing for OSA.