According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all adult Americans have some type of cardiovascular disease. This is an alarming number that contributes to heart disease being the number one cause of death in the United States. While monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate are critical indicators of heart health, there is a growing body of research that supports gait speed as another powerful vital sign that can help identify the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Incorporating objective gait analysis, particularly to monitor trends in gait speed, is an important part of the physical assessment and ongoing care.
Gait speed and cardiovascular disease
A current study found that with every reduction in gait speed by 0.1 m/s there was an associated 8% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This finding demonstrates the value of monitoring gait speed over time to identify even minor declines, which may potentially indicate an underlying condition early in the disease process. Other research found that assessing gait speed along with 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) performance can help in determining the level of difficulty an individual with cardiovascular disease may have when performing functional activities of daily life – as well as evaluating risk for functional decline. Both articles discuss the importance of gait analysis, specifically gait speed, in not only identifying the risk of cardiovascular disease but also its use as a prognostic metric.
Gait speed and mortality
In addition to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, that same reduction of 0.1 m/s in gait speed was also associated with a 12% increase in risk of early mortality. Another study found that the risk of mortality increased in the presence of both low gait speed and low 6MWT scores in older adults with cardiovascular disease. The authors of this study indicated that the use of gait speed as part of regular assessments is a useful metric for risk stratification in this population. Furthermore, research supports the use of gait speed in assessing postoperative mortality risk in patients with cardiovascular disease undergoing cardiac surgery, as frailty is prevalent in this population and has a negative impact on surgical outcomes. Assessing gait speed regularly and pre-operatively should be considered best practices in preventative care that can enhance insight and clinical decision-making.
Remote gait analysis for better insight and preventative care
Gait analysis is most often performed in the clinical setting using observational analysis and stopwatches to gather information about the spatiotemporal parameters of gait. While this type of gait analysis provides some insight, there is now technology that makes gait analysis objective and accessible. OneStep unlocks the power of smartphone motion sensors to capture objective gait parameters, including gait speed, consistency, cadence, and more. Since OneStep relies on smartphone technology and does not require wearables, gait analysis can be done anywhere – during in-person patient visits or remotely. Plus, the science is so sophisticated it’s able to capture background analytics for real-world mobility data, revealing useful insight into how a patient moves beyond in-person visits.
This type of gait analysis data equips providers with visibility that is objective and collected over multiple points in time, so they can proactively identify unfavorable gait trends for early intervention. Furthermore, there is even research to suggest that patients may walk differently when aware they are being assessed and oftentimes demonstrate less favorable gait characteristics during real-world ambulation. So in-person gait analysis may not reflect the most accurate representation of their true functional mobility levels, nor can they provide insight into average mobility data over time in the way remote gait analysis can.
Remote gait analysis opens the door to new opportunities for preventative patient care. Gait and mobility are integral components of health. Learn more about how OneStep’s technology makes it simple to incorporate real-world, objective motion data into clinical practice for unprecedented insight and outcomes.