Context: Neither supervised treadmill exercise nor strength training for patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) without intermittent claudication have been established as beneficial.
Objective: To determine whether supervised treadmill exercise or lower extremity resistance training improve functional performance of patients with PAD with or without claudication.
Design, setting, and participants: Randomized controlled clinical trial performed at an urban academic medical center between April 1, 2004, and August 8, 2008, involving 156 patients with PAD who were randomly assigned to supervised treadmill exercise, to lower extremity resistance training, or to a control group.
Main outcome measures: Six-minute walk performance and the short physical performance battery. Secondary outcomes were brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, treadmill walking performance, the Walking Impairment Questionnaire, and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey physical functioning (SF-36 PF) score.
Results: For the 6-minute walk, those in the supervised treadmill exercise group increased their distance walked by 35.9 m (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.3-56.5 m; P < .001) compared with the control group, whereas those in the resistance training group increased their distance walked by 12.4 m (95% CI, -8.42 to 33.3 m; P = .24) compared with the control group. Neither exercise group improved its short physical performance battery scores. For brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, those in the treadmill group had a mean improvement of 1.53% (95% CI, 0.35%-2.70%; P = .02) compared with the control group. The treadmill group had greater increases in maximal treadmill walking time (3.44 minutes; 95% CI, 2.05-4.84 minutes; P < .001); walking impairment distance score (10.7; 95% CI, 1.56-19.9; P = .02); and SF-36 PF score (7.5; 95% CI, 0.00-15.0; P = .02) than the control group. The resistance training group had greater increases in maximal treadmill walking time (1.90 minutes; 95% CI, 0.49-3.31 minutes; P = .009); walking impairment scores for distance (6.92; 95% CI, 1.07-12.8; P = .02) and stair climbing (10.4; 95% CI, 0.00-20.8; P = .03); and SF-36 PF score (7.5; 95% CI, 0.0-15.0; P = .04) than the control group.
Conclusions: Supervised treadmill training improved 6-minute walk performance, treadmill walking performance, brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, and quality of life but did not improve the short physical performance battery scores of PAD participants with and without intermittent claudication. Lower extremity resistance training improved functional performance measured by treadmill walking, quality of life, and stair climbing ability.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00106327.