Step out for PAD

Dec 15, 2008

You probably know that poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to dangerous deposits of fatty plaques in arteries. But it is not just the heart that is affected – blood flow can be blocked to the legs too, leading to pain when walking, immobility and even in extreme cases, amputation.

Approximately 20% of us will suffer from this peripheral artery disease (PAD) once we are 65 or over, and with risk factors including smoking, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure it is on the rise. Surgical intervention can sometimes help, but the prognosis is not good.

Encouragingly, new research by Ronald Terjung et al1. published in The Journal of Physiology shows that regular, moderate exercise can go a long way to relieving the symptoms of PAD, and by some unexpected mechanisms.

When a major artery in the leg becomes blocked, the body naturally seeks another route for the blood to pass through by expanding and multiplying the surrounding smaller blood vessels in the area, called collateral blood flow.

The researchers studied rats with a blocked femoral artery and found that collateral blood flow was much more effective in restoring normal muscle function in rats that were put on regular exercise training.

The collateral vessels themselves were larger and less prone to constriction – a problem exacerbated with PAD – than in sedentary animals. Surprisingly, the function of blood vessels 'downstream' of the blockage also changed, making them more efficient.

The authors predict that a suitable exercise programme would delay the onset of pain and increase mobility for people suffering with PAD.

"Our findings raise the potential that new collateral vessels, that can develop in patients with PAD who are physically active, will function effectively to help minimize the consequences of the original vascular obstruction." commented Dr Terjung.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Liberia's Sirleaf sees signs of Ebola 'stabilisation'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microlenses for 3-D endoscopes

Oct 05, 2011

Modern endoscopic techniques enable doctors to perform surgery without major incisions. Certain interventions require instruments with special 3-D optics. Researchers have developed an image sensor that transmits ...

Complete revascularization improves outcomes for CAD patients

Apr 23, 2010

A 3-year, retrospective study by cardiologists from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and the University of Minnesota determined that 28.8% of patients with significant coronary artery disease (CAD) who did not undergo ...

Doctors tout NanoKnife for easy tumor removal

Feb 05, 2010

A University of Miami doctor recently removed two cancerous tumors from a patient's liver using only three needle-like probes, a computer and a powerful burst of electricity.

Recommended for you

Texas orders family of Ebola patient to stay home

5 minutes ago

Health officials in Texas ordered four "close family members" of the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States to stay home, amid reports authorities are monitoring up to 80 people for signs of the disease.

New low-cost technique to detect rotavirus

1 hour ago

Researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have found a way to enhance detection capacity of small concentrations of rotavirus. All this thanks to a new way to assess the biosensing response ...

UN launches mission to halt worldwide Ebola spread

2 hours ago

The UN launched a mission on Thursday to prevent the worldwide spread of Ebola as the US hunted for people who came in contact with the first African diagnosed with the deadly virus outside the continent.

Ebola death toll passes 3,300: WHO

3 hours ago

The death toll in the world's worst-ever Ebola epidemic has now soared past 3,300, with the virus killing almost half of the more than 7,000 people it has infected, according to World Health Organization figures released ...

User comments : 0