- •The Dyspnea Challenge is reliable in heart failure.
- •The Dyspnea Challenge is reliable in COPD.
- •The Dyspnea Challenge can differentiate between pathophysiology.
In heart failure (HF), exertional dyspnea is a common symptom, but validated field-based tests for its measurement are limited. The Dyspnea Challenge is a two-minute uphill treadmill walk designed to measure exertional dyspnea in cardiopulmonary disease.
The purpose of this study was to establish the test-retest reliability of the Dyspnea Challenge in HF and to compare the exercise responses to a group with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The study was an experimental, single-blind, randomized, multi-site project that recruited individuals with HF (New York Heart Association I-III) and COPD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease II-IV). Participants completed two visits. On the first visit, participants performed two six-minute walk tests (6MWT), followed by two to three Dyspnea Challenges to calculate treadmill speed and gradient. At Visit Two, participants performed two separate Dyspnea Challenges, with one including measures of pulmonary gas exchange and central hemodynamics.
Twenty-one individuals with HF (10 female; 66±11years; ejection fraction:45.3 ± 6.1%; six-minute distance(6MWD) 520 ± 97 m), and 25 COPD (11 female; 68 ± 10 yr; forced expiratory volume in 1 s:47.6 ± 11.5%; 6MWD: 430 ± 101 m). Intraclass correlation coefficients demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability for HF (0.94, P<.01) and COPD (0.95, P<.01). While achieving similar end-exercise exertional dyspnea intensities (P=.60), the HF group walked at a higher average speed (4.2 ± 0.8 vs. 3.5 ± 0.8km·h−1) and gradient (10.3 ± 2.8 vs. 9.6 ± 2.8%) and a greater oxygen uptake (P<.01) and ventilation (P<.01) than those with COPD. While achieving similar cardiac outputs (P=.98), stroke volumes (P=.97), and heart rates (P=.83), those with HF displayed a larger arteriovenous oxygen difference (P<.01), while those with COPD exhibited greater decreases in inspiratory capacity (P=.03), arterial oxygen saturation (P=.02), and breathing reserve (P<.01).
The Dyspnea Challenge is a reliable test-retest measure of exertional dyspnea in HF. Typical to their pathologies, HF seemed limited by an inadequate modulation of cardiac output, while ventilatory constraints hampered those with COPD.
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Published online: November 28, 2022
Accepted: November 20, 2022
Received in revised form: November 7, 2022
Received: August 30, 2022
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.