Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia
versão impressa ISSN 1806-3713
ANDRADE, Carlos Henrique Silva de; CIANCI, Reinaldo Giovanini; MALAGUTI, Carla e DAL CORSO, Simone. The use of step tests for the assessment of exercise capacity in healthy subjects and in patients with chronic lung disease. J. bras. pneumol. [online]. 2012, vol.38, n.1, pp. 116-124. ISSN 1806-3713. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1806-37132012000100016.
Step tests are typically used to assess exercise capacity. Given the diversity of step tests, the aim of this review was to describe the protocols that have been used in healthy subjects and in patients with chronic lung disease. Step tests for use in healthy subjects have undergone a number of modifications over the years. In most step tests, the duration is variable (90 s-10 min), but the step height (23.0-50.8 cm) and stepping rate (22.5-35.0 steps/min) remain constant throughout the test. However, the use of a fixed step height and constant stepping rate might not provide adequate work intensity for subjects with different levels of fitness, the workload therefore being above or below individual capacity. Consequently, step test protocols have been modified by introducing changes in step heights and stepping rates during the test. Step tests have been used in patients with chronic lung diseases since the late 1970s. The protocols are quite varied, with adjustments in step height (15-30 cm), pacing (self-paced or externally paced), and test duration (90 s-10 min). However, the diversity of step test protocols and the variety of outcomes studied preclude the determination of the best protocol for use in individuals with chronic lung disease. Shorter protocols with a high stepping rate would seem to be more appropriate for assessing exercise-related oxygen desaturation in chronic lung disease. Symptom-limited testing would be more appropriate for evaluating exercise tolerance. There is a need for studies comparing different step test protocols, in terms of their reliability, validity, and ability to quantify responses to interventions, especially in individuals with lung disease.
Palavras-chave : Pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; Asthma; Cystic fibrosis; Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Exercise tolerance; Exercise test.