With the entire country battling the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic, people are in pertinent fear of being infected with this threat and continue to take necessary precautionary measures to avoid infection. Moreover, with the increasing demand for medical oxygen, healthcare experts have suggested those infected or suspected of infection take the six-minute walk test to monitor their oxygen saturation.
Read through this article to find what exactly this test is and who should go for it.
What Is The 6MWT?
This is a simple and effective test to measure how healthy your lungs and heart are functioning. It is usually suggested for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who are treated at home.
The 6-minute walk test (6MWT) was established as a clinical test to determine Cardio-Pulmonary exercise tolerance and it is now been widely used as a screening tool for a patient with coronavirus who don’t show hypoxia (low oxygen saturation < 94%) at rest, and people at high risk with comorbidities like heart disease.
The test will enable a better understanding of the possible status of oxygen level decreasing and also provide a huge relief for people worrying about the infection. The 6min Walk Test will help monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels, which are likely to fluctuate upon doing any physical activity. This test is completely self-paced and one had to do multiple laps during the 6min at a comfortable walking pace within your home. The test can be monitored by a family member using a finger Pulse oximeter and does not need the support of any paramedical personal.
How It Is Done?
The patient must wear a cloth or surgical mask.
The pre-test oxygen saturation should be >94% and the person must not gasp for breath at rest and should be walking comfortably without any support.
The person should walk in the confinement of his/her room for 6min non-stop, without oxygen support.
Post the walk a pulse oximeter is used to measure the oxygen saturation. If the oxygen saturation has dropped below 93% or if there is an absolute drop of more than 3% to 5%, then you are at risk and may need hospital care.
It is vital to monitor if the person is feeling unwell and look for light-headedness or shortness of breath while doing the test and these findings should be noted. This is called unmasking hypoxia, where these patients may eventually progress to be in a hypoxic state and may need prompt medical assistance with oxygen support.
Oxygen level in the blood should stay between 94%-100%, where a drop below 90% is considered an emergency and the patient must be hospitalized immediately.
This test is not recommended for asthmatics. And for people above 60 years of age, the 6min walk test may be cut short for 3 min.
Furthermore, if the person is able to walk with any support and is not requiring oxygen to maintain saturation, then there is no need for any hospitalization. The patient may consult with the healthcare provider over a teleconsultation to share 6MWT findings.
How Many Times Should You Take The Test?
Doctors recommend that this test should be done at least twice a day by a person infected with COVID19. Even if you are not affected with coronavirus, you can still go for the test, as it helps you understand about lung health.
The best thing we can do in this crisis if contracted with coronavirus is to self-isolate and keep a tab on oxygen saturation and other symptoms, if necessary to get hospitalized. Getting vaccinated is essential to shield yourself from catching the infection and continue to observe all COVID-19 protocols to beat the pandemic.