Utility of the breath-holding test in patients with systemic sclerosis

Jina Yeo, Ju Yeon Kim, Mi Hyeon Kim, Jun Won Park, Jin Kyun Park, Eun Bong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Cardiopulmonary involvement is a major cause of death in patients with SSc. This study evaluated the clinical utility and reliability of breath-holding test (BHT) in evaluating cardiopulmonary function in patients with SSc. METHODS: Seventy-two prospectively enrolled patients with SSc underwent BHT and the 6 min walk test (6MWT), along with measurements of the Borg dyspnoea scale and Scleroderma Health Assessment Questionnaire (SHAQ). Data on pulmonary function test and echocardiography were also collected. Validity was assessed based on the correlations between the best BHT and relevant clinical parameters. To assess the reliability of BHT, an additional 31 patients with SSc underwent BHTs twice within 2 week intervals. RESULTS: Mean (s.d.) best BHT time was 38.4 (15.7) s, and 6MWT distance was 473.5 (95.5) m. BHT showed significant correlations with the Borg dyspnoea scale before (r = -0.367, P < 0.001) and after (r = -0.285, P = 0.016) testing, whereas 6MWT were correlated with the Borg dyspnoea scale after (r = -0.351, P = 0.002) but not before (r = -0.113, P = 0.343) testing. BHT time was correlated with diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (%, r = 0.426, P < 0.001), forced vital capacity (litres, r = 0.373, P = 0.001), pulmonary arterial systolic pressure (mmHg, r = -0.272, P = 0.031) and SHAQ score (r = -0.470, P < 0.001), but not with left ventricular ejection fraction (%, r = -0.135, P = 0.263). BHT showed excellent reliability, with an intraclass correlation coefficient (2, 1) of 0.943 (95% CI: 0.88, 0.97). CONCLUSION: BHT, a simple and less time-consuming test, shows excellent reliability and significant correlation with the Borg scale, SHAQ and pulmonary parameters. These results suggest that BHT might be a useful surrogate marker of pulmonary capacity in SSc patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04484948.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4113-4118
Number of pages6
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number10
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • 6 minute walk test
  • breath-holding test
  • systemic sclerosis


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