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Activity cuts death risk from artery disease

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, July 6 (Reuters) Physical activity appears to reduce the risk of death in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a serious life- and limb-threatening condition caused by plaque build-up in the arteries of the legs, according to findings in the journal Circulation.

Lower-extremity PAD affects approximately 8 million people in the United States. ''Most PAD patients are inactive to avoid the pain of cramps in their legs,'' Dr. Mary M. McDermott, of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, and colleagues note.

The researchers followed 460 patients with PAD, average age of 82 years, for 57 months. The patients were interviewed about their physical activity at enrollment, and the team used ''accelerometers'' to measure physical activity continuously over 7 days in 225 subjects. The researchers also adjusted their analysis to account for a number of factors that could affect the results.

Overall, 134 patients died during follow-up, including 75 of the group of patients who wore accelerometers.

Higher levels of physical activity were associated with a reduced risk of death. Patients with the lowest levels of activity were 3.5-times more likely to die than those with the highest levels.

Similar results were seen regarding the risks of heart attack and stroke.

The benefit of interventions to increase physical activity would have to be tested in a clinical trial, the investigators say. ''In the meantime, the present findings suggest that clinicians should encourage patients with PAD to increase their physical activity during daily life,'' they conclude.


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