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  1. Munari, Anelise B. MSc
  2. Venancio, Raysa S. MSc
  3. Klein, Suelen R. MSc
  4. Gulart, Aline A. MSc
  5. Silva, Isabela J. C. S. PT
  6. Sonza, Anelise PhD
  7. Dal Lago, Pedro PhD
  8. Mayer, Anamaria F. PhD


Purpose: To describe physiological responses during the 6-min step test (6MST) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to investigate whether COPD severity and test interruptions could determine different physiological responses, and to test the reproducibility of 6MST performance.


Methods: Cross-sectional study. Patients with moderate to very severe COPD underwent lung function assessment and 2 6MSTs, with physiological responses measurement by a gas analyzer and a near-infrared spectroscopy device.


Results: Thirty-six patients (29 men; forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration [FEV1] = 51.1 +/- 13.6%pred) participated in the study. Most of the physiological variables stabilized between the second and fourth minutes of the 6MST, except the respiratory rate and heart rate (HR), which stabilized after the fifth minute. The patients who interrupted the 6MST showed higher minute ventilation to maximal voluntary ventilation ratio (



E/MVV; all test minutes) and HR (first and second minutes) (P < .05) and worse pulmonary function (FEV1 = 1.37 +/- 0.37 L vs 1.82 +/- 0.41 L, P = .002, and 47.2 +/- 13.2%pred vs 56.6 +/- 12.4%pred, P = .04, respectively) than those who did not interrupt the 6MST. However, their performance was similar (P = .11). 6MST performance and physiological variables were reproducible, and there was a learning effect of 6.28%.


Conclusions: The 6MST showed a stabilization of the most physiological variables. In addition, interruptions were usually made by patients with a greater impairment of lung function and they presented greater increased ventilatory demand during the 6MST. However, these interruptions do not interfere with 6MST physiological responses. Moreover, the 6MST is a reliable test to evaluate the functional capacity of patients with COPD.