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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

A simple, reliable method of assessing exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure


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A simple, reliable method of assessing exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 52-56, 1999.

Objective: The accurate determination of limitations in physical activity is important in evaluating patients with heart failure and in assessing the efficacy of treatment. However, the conventional measures used to evaluate hemodynamics, functional class, and exercise capacity all have limitations. Our objective was to develop a simple method (The Master-Borg test) for evaluating the physical activity of patients with chronic heart failure using self-evaluation of the sensation of dyspnea at a constant workload.

Methods: Patients with NYHA class I (N = 20), class II (N = 20), and class III (N = 20) chronic heart failure performed a symptom-limited treadmill exercise test to determine peak V˙O2 and anaerobic threshold (AT). Patients subsequently performed Master's two-step test for 90 s and maximal dyspnea was self-rated using the visual analog Borg scale (the Master-Borg test).

Results: The mean workload in the Master-Borg test was 15.2 ± 1.6 mL·min−1·kg−1. A significant correlation was found between the Master-Borg score and peak V˙O2 (r = 0.87) or AT (r = 0.84). The reproducibility of the Master-Borg tests was represented by a correlation coefficient of 0.93.

Conclusion: Although simple and inexpensive, the Master-Borg test accurately represents ordinary activity levels, relates the sensation of dyspnea to peak exercise tolerance, and can be completed by most patients with heart failure. Master-Borg scores correlated with peak V˙O2 and AT, and can differentiate among NYHA classes I, II, and III. The Master-Borg test appears to be clinically useful for evaluating the value of physical activity and exercise capacity of patients with chronic heart failure.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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