Utilization of a 5-Meter Walk Test in Evaluating Self-selected Gait Speed during Preoperative Screening of Patients Scheduled for Cardiac Surgery

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The 5-Meter Walk Test (5MWT) has been recommended for use by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons as an outcome measure in the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database to predict frailty in individuals who are candidates for cardiac surgery. However, there are no published reports of performance on this test in the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to provide descriptive analysis of the 5MWT for individuals who were candidates for cardiac surgery.


Retrospective analysis of 113 preoperative cardiac surgery candidates who underwent a 5MWT. Gait speed calculated from the test was completed as part of preoperative testing administered by physical therapists. Three trials were performed with up to a one minute rest between trials. Differences by trial, gender, use of assistive device, and gait or postural deviations were determined using t-tests.


Mean gait speed was 1.05 (SD 0.26) m/s for the subjects. There was a statistically significant increase in gait speed from trial 1 to trial 3 by 0.05 (0.08) m/s (p < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in gait speed between males and females. Participants using assistive devices displayed a significantly slower mean gait speed of 0.70 (0.27) than those who walked unaided, with a mean gait speed of 1.08 (0.24) m/s (p < 0.0001). Participants with noted gait or postural deviations also walked significantly slower (mean 0.84, SD 0.22) than those without deviations (mean 1.15, SD 0.21) (p < 0.0001).


Subjects displayed a slight increase in speed from trial 1 to trial 3, reinforcing a cited benefit of the shorter distance of the 5MWT that may limit fatigue. Although statistically significant, the increase in speed from trial 1 to 3 may not be clinically significant in relation to the intent of the test. Significantly slower gait speeds were noted when a subject had an observable gait or postural deviation or used an assistive device.

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