In patients on standard therapy (home walking plus the medication cilostazol) for peripheral artery disease (PAD), adding a supervised treadmill exercise program improved walking ability significantly better than stenting, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2011.
The study enrolled 111 patients with PAD, average age 64 years, from 29 centers in the United States. Sixty-one percent were male, and 80% were Caucasian. More than half smoked and nearly one-fourth had diabetes. Investigators randomized patients to home walking plus cilostazol or to the same approach plus 1 of 2 other interventions—supervised treadmill exercise or placement of a stent to reduce narrowing in the iliac artery.
Six months after study enrollment, patients in the supervised exercise program significantly increased their average treadmill walking time (5.8 minutes), as did those who received stents (3.7 minutes). In contrast, patients who only exercised at home showed little improvement (1.2 minutes).
Exercise treatment improved leg function and symptoms, but not blood flow to the leg.
The study was published online yesterday in Circulation.