Objective: Patients on haemodialysis (HD) are by necessity inactive for 3-6 h three times a week. The aim of this prospective controlled study was to investigate the level of functional capacity of elderly HD patients using simple measures.
Material and methods: A total of 11 consecutive HD patients aged > 60 years (median age 75 years) were included in the study. They were compared with 22 gender- and age-matched healthy subjects using a prospective 1:2 case:healthy subject study design. As tests of functional capacity and maximal exercise capacity we used a "sit-to-stand" test (number of cycles within 10 s) and a staircase test (the number of cycles completed per second was used as the effect variable), respectively.
Results: The patients managed significantly fewer cycles than the healthy subjects in the staircase test (median 2 vs 10; p<0.003) and performed approximately 50% fewer cycles in the sit-to-stand test (p<0.014). The work performed in a given time in the staircase test was 54% less for the patients (p<0.017).
Conclusions: The HD patients in the study had a considerably lower functional capacity than the healthy subjects, which may have interfered with their daily living activities. The tests used are easy to apply and need no specialized equipment. The importance of investigating functional capacity and instituting rehabilitation programmes is emphasized.