Exercise Versus Peripheral Artery Disease

Some age-related conditions are greatly impacted by exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle is one of the factors raising the risk of suffering these conditions. Type 2 diabetes is the best known of these, a lifestyle disease that you can actually exercise and diet your way out of if you work at it hard enough. Peripheral artery disease isn't so escapable, being a later stage in the process of deterioration, but exercise is still beneficial to a point comparable to other options for treatment:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common vascular disease that reduces blood flow capacity to the legs of patients. PAD leads to exercise intolerance that can progress in severity to greatly limit mobility, and in advanced cases leads to frank ischemia with pain at rest. It is estimated that 12 to 15 million people in the United States are diagnosed with PAD, with a much larger population that is undiagnosed.

The presence of PAD predicts a 50% to 1500% increase in morbidity and mortality, depending on severity. Treatment of patients with PAD is limited to modification of cardiovascular disease risk factors, pharmacological intervention, surgery, and exercise therapy. Extended exercise programs that involve walking approximately five times per week, at a significant intensity that requires frequent rest periods, are most significant.

Preclinical studies and virtually all clinical trials demonstrate the benefits of exercise therapy, including improved walking tolerance, modified inflammatory/hemostatic markers, enhanced vasoresponsiveness, adaptations within the limb (angiogenesis, arteriogenesis, and mitochondrial synthesis) that enhance oxygen delivery and metabolic responses, potentially delayed progression of the disease, enhanced quality of life indices, and extended longevity. [The] benefits are so compelling that exercise prescription should be an essential option presented to patients with PAD in the absence of contraindications. Obviously, selecting for a lifestyle pattern that includes enhanced physical activity prior to the advance of PAD limitations is the most desirable and beneficial.

Is there a lesson here? Yes: exercise regularly. Don't be sedentary.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23720270

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