Background: In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), the six-minute walk test (6MWT) is believed to be representative of patient's daily life physical activities (DL(PA)). Whether DL(PA) are decreased in PAH and whether the 6MWT is representative of patient's DL(PA) remain unknown.
Methods: 15 patients with idiopathic PAH (IPAH) and 10 patients with PAH associated with limited systemic sclerosis (PAH-SSc) were matched with 15 healthy control subjects and 10 patients with limited systemic sclerosis without PAH. Each subject completed a 6MWT. The mean number of daily steps and the mean energy expenditure and duration of physical activities >3 METs were assessed with a physical activity monitor for seven consecutive days and used as markers of DL(PA).
Results: The mean number of daily steps and the mean daily energy expenditure and duration of physical activities >3 METs were all reduced in PAH patients compared to their controls (all p<0.05). The mean number of daily steps correlated with the 6MWT distance for both IPAH and PAH-SSc patients (r = 0.76, p<0.01 and r = 0.85, p<0.01), respectively.
Conclusion: DL(PA) are decreased in PAH and correlate with the 6MWT distance. Functional exercise capacity may thus be a useful surrogate of DL(PA) in PAH.