WEDNESDAY, July 5, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Daily physical activity helps extend the lives of people with the debilitating condition known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a U.S. study finds.
The researchers found the death rate among more active patients is less than a third that of inactive patients.
Lower extremity PAD -- a condition in which fatty deposits build up in the inner linings of the artery walls in the legs -- affects about 8 million Americans. PAD is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Common symptoms of PAD include cramping, pain, and tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking, climbing stairs or exercising.
"Most PAD patients are inactive to avoid the pain of cramps in their legs," study senior author Dr. Mary M. McDermott, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in a prepared statement.
Her team assessed the physical activity levels of 460 male and female PAD patients, average age 72, who were followed for five years. Of the 460 patients, 134 died during follow-up, and 40 percent of those deaths were due to cardiovascular disease.
The death rate among patients with the lowest activity levels was more than three times higher than patients with the highest levels of physical activity. The findings appear in the July 4 issue of the journal Circulation.
"We found that there is a survival benefit for PAD patients who are more physically active in their daily routines," McDermott said.
Doctors should advise PAD patients to be more active, she said.
"Anything PAD patients can do in their daily life to be more active may help them live longer. Simple tips to add more physical activity to a daily routine are parking further away at the grocery store or taking the stairs," McDermott said.
The American Medical Association has more about PAD.