Peripheral artery disease harder on women

Feb 04, 2011

Small calf muscles may be a feminine trait, but for women with peripheral artery disease (PAD) they're a major disadvantage. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine point to the smaller calf muscles of women as a gender difference that may cause women with PAD to experience problems walking and climbing stairs sooner and faster than men with the disease.

The study was published in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

affects eight million men and in the United States. The disease causes blockages in leg arteries, and patients with PAD are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke, said Mary McDermott, M.D., professor of medicine and of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

McDermott and a team of researchers observed 380 men and women with PAD for four years, measuring their calf muscle characteristics and leg strength every year. Oxygen is needed to fuel calf muscles, and blockages in leg arteries prevent oxygen from reaching the of people with PAD.

The researchers also tracked whether or not the patients could walk for six minutes without stopping and climb up and down a flight of stairs without assistance every year.

"After four years, women with PAD were more likely to become unable to walk for six minutes continuously and more likely to develop a mobility disability compared to men with the disease," said McDermott, lead author of the study. "When we took into account that the women had less calf muscle than men at the beginning of the study, that seemed to explain at least some of the gender difference."

Interestingly, men in this study experienced a greater loss of calf muscle annually than the women. But the men had more lower extremity muscle reserve than the women. That may have protected men against the more rapid women experienced.

"We know that supervised treadmill exercise can prevent decline, so it's especially important for women with PAD to get the diagnosis and engage in walking exercise to try and protect against decline," McDermott said.

Explore further: Philippines boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why walking flat-footed hurts habitual high-heels wearers

Jul 15, 2010

Why does it hurt walking flat-footed after wearing high heels? Marco Narici and his team from Manchester Metropolitan University looked at the calf muscles of habitual high heel wearers and found that the women's muscle fibers ...

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

20 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

21 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...