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Walking Recommended for Those With PAD

It benefits people with peripheral arterial disease, new research finds

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- "Walk off the pain" is a common expression in sports when someone receives a minor injury. It can also be applied to people with peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions say a supervised walking exercise program is an effective remedy for people with PAD who suffer cramping leg pain. Their report appears in tomorrow's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Cramping leg pain is the most common symptom of PAD, which affects 8 million to 10 million American adults and 5 percent of people aged 50 and older. PAD is a form of atherosclerosis that affects blood vessels in the legs.

Cholesterol-laden plaque builds up in the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the legs. That limited blood flow can't meet the demand from legs when a person with PAD is walking or exercising, and that shortfall results in pain, aching and fatigue in the legs.

The researchers reviewed more than 120 studies and concluded that people with PAD should walk until they reach a moderate level of pain and then continue walking for several minutes after that. They should rest and then resume walking. The cycle should be repeated until the person can walk for 50 minutes.

A supervised exercise program where the person with PAD walks on a treadmill several times a week may be the best way to lessen PAD-related leg pain.

More information

The University of Michigan Health System has more about peripheral arterial disease.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, Dec. 11, 2002
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