Traditional vs alternative exercise for intermittent claudication


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Patients with intermittent claudication-associated peripheral arterial disease should be given the option of pain-free exercise as they may be more likely to adhere to it, suggests a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

For the study, researchers compared completion and adherence rates between traditional and alternative exercise programmes of at least four weeks duration. Traditional programmes consisted of walking until moderate to severe pain was induced, resting until the pain subsided, then repeating the process. Alternative exercises included walking without pain, resistance training, circuit training and lower limb aerobic exercise. A total of 84 studies and 4,742 patients were included in the analysis. 

The study found the completion rate for traditional exercise was 80.8 per cent compared with 86.6 per cent for alternative exercise. Adherence rates were 77.6 per cent and 85.5 per cent, respectively.

“Pain played a major role in the completion and adherence rates," said study author Edward Lin of the University of Toronto. "Walking to pain is effective, but only if patients actually do it. Many clinicians and vascular surgeons still prescribe this type of exercise, but it's important to consider other types of activity, which have also been shown to work."