Health Team

Study evaluates exercise benefit for PAD patients

Posted January 14, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

Researchers have found that supervised treadmill training can help alleviate some effects of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), according to a new study.

PAD, where a blocked artery reduces blood flow to the legs, makes walking short distances difficult and sometimes painful. The condition is common among diabetics and cigarette smokers.

“People with peripheral arterial disease can typically walk just short distances before they need to stop and rest,” said Dr. Mary McDermott, who is at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and who authored the study.

Study evaluates exercise benefit for PAD patients Treadmill training may help PAD patients

The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It included 156 patients with "intermittent claudication" or leg pain that occurs while walking then goes away with rest.

After six months, patients in a supervised treadmill exercise group greatly improved their walking ability, as well as their cardiovascular health and quality of life.

Another set of patients in supervised leg-strengthening exercises improved their treadmill endurance, their ability to climb stairs and their quality of life.

A third control group did not participate in an exercise program.

“Patients with peripheral arterial disease, whether or not they have the classic symptoms of intermittent claudication, benefit from supervised treadmill exercise and also have some benefit from resistance training of the legs,” McDermott said.

Charles Meadows said that before the study he could walk about a block before having to stop and rest. “I knew this is not normal,” he said.

Since the study, Meadows said he has felt better.

“I was able to walk with less pain,” he said.

The research will follow the same patients for another six months in unsupervised exercises at home.


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