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Treadmill Use Beneficial in Peripheral Arterial Disease

Intervention linked to greater six-minute walking distance; strength training shows some benefits

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Treadmill training improved walking endurance in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), both with and without symptoms of intermittent claudication, according to research published in the Jan. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mary M. McDermott, M.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 156 patients with PAD who were randomized to a 24-week supervised treadmill exercise intervention or a lower extremity resistance training intervention, or a control group of informational sessions. Only a minority of patients had intermittent claudication. The main outcome measures were six-minute walk performance and the short physical performance battery.

Compared with the control group, the treadmill group improved their six-minute walk distance by 35.9 meters, the researchers report. The resistance training group showed no significant improvement, and neither group showed improvement on short physical performance battery scores. The treadmill group also had a 1.53 percent mean improvement of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation compared with the control group, the investigators found. Each intervention group had more improvement on the Short Form Health Survey physical functioning score than controls, the authors note.

"Based on findings reported in this trial, physicians should recommend supervised treadmill exercise programs for PAD patients, regardless of whether they have classic symptoms of intermittent claudication. Our findings regarding brachial artery flow-mediated dilation suggest that supervised treadmill exercise improves global vascular health in patients with PAD. Lower extremity resistance training improves treadmill walking performance and quality of life, particularly stair climbing, in patients with PAD with and without intermittent claudication," McDermott and colleagues conclude.

McDermott disclosed financial relationships with Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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