Aims: Aerobic exercise improves vascular endothelial function in people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). There is minimal information available regarding vascular health in people with T2DM and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Thus, the primary aim of this secondary analysis was to determine whether a 16-week aerobic exercise intervention could improve vascular health in people with T2DM and DPN. A secondary aim was to explore the relationship between changes in flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and the number of years since diagnosis of DPN.
Methods: We examined whether a 16-week aerobic exercise intervention would improve vascular health in people with T2DM and DPN. We used Doppler ultrasound to assess brachial artery diameter and peak shear at baseline and post-exercise. Paired t-tests were used to determine whether the outcome measures improved from baseline to post-intervention. Pearson correlation assessed the relationship between DPN (years) and the percent change score (pre- to post-intervention) for FMD.
Results: Seventeen individuals were included in the data analysis. After the intervention, peak diameter increased (3.9 (0.5) to 4.0 (0.5) mm; p = 0.07). Time to peak shear occurred at 60.5 (24.6) seconds when compared to baseline at 68.2 (22.7) seconds; p = 0.17. We found that a longer duration (in years) of DPN demonstrated a fair, negative relationship (r = -0.41, p = 0.19) with the percent change in FMD.
Conclusion: Aerobic exercise was beneficial for improving measures of vascular health but these were not statistically significant. The magnitude of change may be affected by the duration of DPN.
Keywords: cardiovascular; diabetes; physical activity; ultrasound.