5-minute treadmill test gets thumbs-up

Researchers say it could substantially improve patient management

A five-minute treadmill test can predict the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality just as effectively as the conventional but more time-consuming stress test,

A Canadian study of more than 6,000 adults followed up over 28 years suggests the shorter and simpler submaximal test may have a wider application in clinical practice than the maximal cardiorespiratory fitness (mCRF).

“Relatively short [three-to-five minute] tests of submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness (sCRF) overcome the barriers associated with the measurement of mCRF and may offer a pragmatic alternative to obtain objective measures of CRF in clinical settings,” the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows.

“The submaximal test requires less than one-third the time of a maximal fitness test and does not require the patient to reach maximal exertion.”

A decrease in heart rate at the five-minute mark of the exercise test is considered an improvement in sCRF, while an increase is considered a decrease in sCRF.

A novel finding from the study is that maintaining or improving sCRF fitness over time is associated with a 40% lower risk of all-cause mortality after controlling for traditional risk factors.

This reduction in mortality risk is similar in magnitude to mCRF. 

“Change in sCRF provides a unique indicator of cardiovascular function, which can identify patients who are at increased risk of all-cause mortality above and beyond the measurement of traditional CVD risk factors,” the researchers conclude.

“Widespread adoption could substantially improve patient management.”

You can access the study here.