Objective: Exercise therapy is a common intervention for the management of intermittent claudication (IC). However, considerable uncertainty remains about the effect of different exercise components such as intensity, duration, or content of the exercise programs. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of supervised walking therapy (SWT) as treatment in patients with IC and to update and identify the most important exercise components resulting in an optimal training protocol for patients with IC.
Methods: A systematic literature search using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases was performed. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between January 1966 and February 2012 were included if they evaluated the effectiveness of SWT. Predefined exercise components were extracted, including treadmill use during training, claudication pain end point used during walking, length of the SWT program, and total training volume. A meta-analysis and meta-regression was performed to evaluate the weighted mean difference in maximum walking distance (MWD) and pain-free walking distance (PFWD) between SWT and noninterventional observation.
Results: Twenty-five RCTs (1054 patients) comparing SWT vs noninterventional observation showed a weighted mean difference of 180 meters (95% confidence interval, 130-230 meters) in MWD and 128 meters (95% confidence interval, 92-165 meters) in PFWD, both in favor of the SWT group. In multivariable meta-regression analysis, none of the predefined exercise components were independently associated with significant improvements in MWD or PFWD.
Conclusions: SWT is effective in improving MWD and PFWD in patients with IC. However, pooled results from the RCTs did not identify any of the exercise components including intensity, duration, or content of the program as being independently associated with improvements in MWD or PFWD.
Copyright © 2012 Society for Vascular Surgery. All rights reserved.