Why Some PAD Patients Should Take a Walk

Peripheral artery disease patients had improved mobility after behavioral therapy group that encouraged walking at home

(RxWiki News) Got peripheral artery disease (PAD)? A simple, at-home activity may help you get your mobility back.

A new study found that PAD patients who participated in a behavioral therapy program that encouraged walking at home had better mobility than patients who weren't in the program.

The authors of this study pointed out that past research had found that supervised exercise at a medical facility appeared to help PAD patients, but the current study suggests that exercise at home could be effective — and cheaper — too.

“These findings are particularly important because PAD patients have significantly higher rates of mobility loss compared to those without PAD,” said lead study author Mary M. McDermott, MD, and Jeremiah Stamler, a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago who wasn't involved in this study, in a press release.

Dr. McDermott added, “Patients should understand that home-based exercise can help prevent mobility loss, and healthcare providers should recognize that this kind of exercise can be beneficial for their patients with PAD.”

PAD is marked by clogged leg arteries. It can cause tiredness and pain during light exercise like walking. Risk factors for PAD include diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A key part of PAD treatment is helping patients maintain mobility.

For this study, Dr. McDermott and colleagues looked at 194 patients who had PAD. These patients were all 65 or older. They were randomly placed into an exercise group or a control group. Each week for a year, the control group patients went to health lectures on topics other than exercise.

The exercise group patients went to group meetings, where a facilitator encouraged them to walk at least five days a week. After six months, the facilitator began calling the exercise patients to encourage them to walk.

The results? Eighty-three percent of the exercise patients regained mobility at either the six- or 12-month follow-up mark. For the control patients, that figure was 36.4 percent. Dr. McDermott and team defined mobility as the ability to walk a quarter mile without help and climb a flight of stairs.

Over the course of this study, 8.6 percent of the exercise group patients lost their mobility. Among the control patients, 33.9 percent lost mobility.

This study was published online May 20 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Intramural Research Program, National Institutes on Aging and National Institutes of Health funded this research. Dr. McDermott and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 21, 2015