January 3, 2006

Walking slows decline with leg artery disease

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Walking at least 3 times per
week seems to significantly slow the functional decline seen in
people with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that
involves hardening of the blood vessels in the legs and
elsewhere, according to a new report.

Previous reports have linked exercise rehabilitation
programs with improved treadmill performance in PAD patients,
but the benefits of a regular walking program were unclear.

To investigate, Dr. Mary McGrae McDermott, from
Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues compared the
functional outcomes of 143 PAD patients who walked for exercise
at least 3 times per week with those of 274 patients who walked
lesser amounts. The subjects were followed for a median
duration of 36 months.

Walking at least 3 times per week was associated with a
significantly smaller annual decline in the distance walked in
6 minutes compared with lesser amounts of walking.

"Our data suggest that patients with PAD who are unable or
unwilling to participate in supervised walking exercise
programs may benefit from self-directed walking at home," the
authors conclude in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine January 3, 2006.