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PAD Peripheral Artery Disease Progression Slowed by Walking

January 3rd 2006

PAD Peripheral Artery Disease Progression Slowed by Walking

Walking benefits

A new study indicates that people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) can slow the disease progression and improve their walking ability by walking for exercise at least three times per week.  Sufferers of PAD can suffer leg pain that is caused by decreased blood blow in the arteries.

PAD is caused by blockages to the arteries that supply blood to the legs.  Certain risk factors are associated with this disease including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. The condition gets more profound as we age.

This study conducted at the Northwestern University in Chicago included 417 women and men.  The researchers found that those who walked three or more times per week had a significantly smaller average decline in walking speed and distance when compared to those that walked only once or twice a week.


The study that appears in the January 3rd issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine found that only a small percentage of black participants walked for exercise more than three times per week.  It was noted that blacks suffer at a higher rate from PAD.

The subjects were followed for an average of 36 months.  Of the participants 143 walked for exercise at least 3 times per week.  The other 274 participants walked less.  

According to the author of the study, Dr. Mary Mary McGrae McDermott, “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 understandingPAD website says there are eight to twelve million people in the US that are living with the condition.  These people have a five times greater risk of having a heart attack.  Most of those affected have no idea what PAD is or that they even have the condition.

The website states “This blockage, by itself, is usually considered to be irreversible, but the rate at which it develops can be markedly slowed by a healthy lifestyle. A well-informed and motivated patient can certainly stop smoking, lower their blood cholesterol, control their blood pressure, and ensure that their diabetes is well managed.“


At least half of the sufferers may not have symptoms (the number could be as high as 90% though).  Some people may suffer from claudication, This is a fatigue, discomfort or pain in the leg muscles.  There are studies that found that 5% of men and 2.5% of women over 60 years of age have symptoms of claudication.

Pain in the buttocks, thighs or calves can lead to a diagnosis.  Some individuals with PAD may suffer a wound in the leg that will not heal.  It could be gangrene and may lead to amputation. 

It is important to remember that most people have no symptoms of the disease.  Doctors can measure the blood pressure at the ankle and compare that pressure taken at the arm to aid in the diagnosis.  This is called ankle-brachial index or ABI.  If the blood pressure in the leg is lower it may indicate the patient has the disease. 

The ABI test can also be used to plot the progression of the disease.  Along with a healthy lifestyle walking will help slow the progression of PAD.   

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM