Background: Exercise training is recommended as the first-line therapy for intermittent claudication patients. However, the effects of exercise therapy on cardiovascular function of these patients have been poorly studied. The aim of this study is to compare the effects of walking and strength training on cardiovascular responses assessed at rest and during exercise in patients with intermittent claudication.
Patients and methods: Thirty-four patients with stable symptoms of intermittent claudication were randomized into two groups: strength training (ST) consisting of eight exercises, three sets of 10 repetitions, intensity of 11 - 13 on 15-grade Borg scale, 2-min interval between sets; and walking training (WT) consisting of walking on a treadmill, 15 bouts of 2-min, intensity of 11 - 13 on 15-grade Borg scale, with a 2-min interval between bouts. Before and after 12 weeks, blood pressure, heart rate and rate pressure product were measured at rest and during a progressive treadmill test until maximal claudication pain.
Results: Fifteen patients in each group completed the training program. After the training programs, resting systolic blood pressure (ST:-6 ± 13 mmHg and WT:-3 ± 18 mmHg, P = .04), heart rate (ST: -6 ± 10 bpm and WT:-2 ± 9 bpm, P = .03), and rate pressure product (ST:-1485 ± 1442 mmHg*bpm and WT:- 605 ± 2145 mmHg*bpm, P = .01) decreased significantly and similarly in both groups. Submaximal systolic blood pressure (ST: -14 ± 23 mmHg and WT:-6 ± 23 mmHg, P = .02), and rate pressure product (ST:-1579 ± 3444 mmHg*bpm and WT: -1264 ± 3005 mmHg*bpm, P = .04) decreased significantly and similarly in both groups. There were no changes in submaximal heart rate after ST and WT. Maximal systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and rate pressure product did not change in either group, although maximal exercise time increased similarly in the ST and WT groups (+31 ± 19 %, and +31 ± 32 %, respectively, P < .01).
Conclusions: Strength and walking trainings promoted similar increases in walking capacity and decreases in resting and submaximal exercise cardiovascular load.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00879697.