Patients with peripheral artery disease

Supervised exercise was shown to be more effective than stenting or medication for improved walking ability in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a U.S. study reported Wednesday at the 2011 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting.

The research group reported that of 111 patients studied in the randomized trial, the most effective treatment proved to be supervised exercise based on the results of a treadmill test taken at baseline and again at six months. Patients who were in the supervised exercise group improved by a mean of 4.6 minutes in the treadmill test, while the group who received stents improved by a mean of 2.5 minutes. However, researchers found that self-reported quality of life measurements proved to be higher in the group that received stents, even though their ability to walk did not improve as greatly as the group that received supervised exercise rehabilitation.

The findings were published in the November issue of the journal Circulation. The researchers believe that more studies are necessary, although supervised exercise may be an effective treatment recommended for PAD patients with claudication.

PAD is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and affects blood flow, especially to the legs. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 million people suffer from PAD in the United States. One symptom of PAD is known as claudication, a painful cramping of the leg muscles that limits the patient’s ability to walk. It affects nearly two million people who suffer from PAD, and results in a sedentary lifestyle and poor quality of life.

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