(HealthDay)—The six-minute walk distance (6MWD) test is useful in identifying patients with a higher likelihood of developing postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) following cardiac surgery, according to a study published online May 9 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Kazuhiro Hayashi, P.T., from Nagoya University Hospital in Japan, and colleagues investigated the association between preoperative 6MWD with POCD in 181 patients (mean age, 71.4 years) undergoing cardiac operations.

The researchers found that the POCD group had a significantly lower 6MWD (median, 400 m) versus the non-POCD group (median, 450 m). Independent risk factors for POCD included the 6MWD, intensive care unit length of stay, age, and the Mini-Mental State Examination score. For each increase of 50 m in the 6MWD the odds of POCD decreased (odds ratio, 0.807).

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