Exercising Clogged Leg Arteries

Peripheral arterial disease needs exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Recreational activities such as golfing, hiking and swimming might do more than provide for a fun family weekend. They also appear to cut your risk of peripheral arterial disease, the narrowing of leg arteries.

Everyday recreational activities generally include those that people engage in for weekend fun rather than rigorous exercise.

"Get active to avoid peripheral arterial disease."

Dr. John P. Cooke, a co-author of the research and a professor of medicine at Falk Cardiovascular Research Center at Stanford University Medical Center, said this is the first study that had revealed a link between a person's level of recreational activity and whether they develop peripheral arterial disease. He said the research team began the study to determine whether a lifetime of recreational activity could protect against peripheral artery disease.

Up to 12 million in the United States have peripheral arterial disease, which can make it difficult for patients to walk, and affect their quality of life.

Investigators studied 1,381 patients between April 2004 and January 2008 who were referred either to Stanford or Mt. Sinai Medical Center for elective coronary angiography.

Researchers used a validated physical activity questionnaire to measure each patient's lifetime recreational activity. The survey assessed frequency and duration of activities, and whether they were high or low intensity.

It was found that 19 percent of patients showed evidence of peripheral arterial disease. The least active patients had a significantly lower ankle-brachial index measurement, which can show more severe cases of the disease. Of the group that was less active, 25.6 percent had peripheral arterial disease compared to 13.7 percent of non-sedentary patients.

Dr. Cooke said the research showed that those who admitted to engaging in absolutely no recreational activity were more likely to develop peripheral arterial disease. He said it was well known that such patients tended to be sedentary, but researchers were unsure as to whether that was the cause or the effect.

He suggests that individuals regularly engage in recreational activities, even mild exercise such as strolling, to help prevent peripheral arterial disease.

The research was published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, the official publication of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 8, 2011
Last Updated:
August 9, 2011