Study Finds that Prognosis for Systemic Sclerosis can be Predicted with this Simple Test

According to a story from Scleroderma News, the results from a recent study suggest that the six minute walk test can accurately predict outcomes for patients with systemic sclerosis. A low score is associated with more severe disease and an increased risk of death. According to the data, every meter a patient was able to walk correlated to a single percentage point in survival chances.

About Systemic Sclerosis

Systemic sclerosis, which is also known as systemic scleroderma, is a type of autoimmune disease that primarily affects connective tissue. The disease causes damage to small arteries and causes the skin to thicken due to the accumulation of collagen. What causes the immune reaction to begin is not entirely known. There may be some genetic links, and cytomegalovirus and parvovirus B19 have also been suggested as potential triggers. Some chemotherapy agents, solvents, and chronic kidney disease have also been linked to systemic sclerosis. The disease becomes life threatening when its begins to affect the vital organs, such as the digestive system, lungs, and heart. Symptoms include scarred and hardened skin, ulcers, itching, muscle weakness, joint pain, pulmonary arterial hypertension, digestive problems, liver scarring, esophagitis, and kidney damage. Ten year survival rate when the organs become involved is 55 percent. To learn more about systemic sclerosis, click here.

The Six Minute Walk Test

The six minute walk test is a very simple evaluation that measures how far a person is able to walk in six minutes. Participants are permitted stop and rest as many times as they feel is necessary. It is commonly used to measure the exercise ability of people with illnesses such as pulmonary arterial hypertension or pulmonary fibrosis.

About the Study

The study involved 54 patients with systemic sclerosis; 70 percent had internal organ involvement. Patients with abnormally low walk scores had worse disease, that often included muscle weakness, poor lung function, and joint pain. The study was conducted over a six year period, and eight patients died. Six of the eight that died started the study with low walk scores.

While the six minute walk test has not been commonly employed in systemic sclerosis, it appears to have the ability to play a valuable role in predicting outcomes for patients.


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