Efficacy of a short-course intensive rehabilitation program in patients with moderate-to-severe intermittent claudication

Marco Ambrosetti, Mario Salerno, Roberto Tramarin, Roberto F E Pedretti

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Background. Many rehabilitation programs for intermittent claudication include physical training for several months, since the outcome of short-course protocols is still unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a short course of exercise therapy in patients with moderate-to-severe intermittent claudication in terms of walking distance variations. Methods. Twenty-six patients (males 88%, mean age 59 ± 8 years, ankle-brachial index ≤ 0.8 and ≤ 0.5 before and after exercise respectively) were evaluated. Moderate-to-severe stenoses or occlusions were localized at color Doppler scanning of the abdominal aorta/iliac arteries and femoral/popliteal/tibial arteries in 15 and 31% of patients respectively, while in 54% of cases both the proximal and distal sites were involved. The initial and absolute claudication distances were recorded by means of the constant treadmill test (3 km/hour speed, 0% grade) at the time of presentation and after a short-course comprehensive rehabilitation program (4 week duration) including physical training, educational intervention, psychological support, and cardiovascular risk management. Results. At the end of the program, 1 patient (4%) became asymptomatic (walked > 1000 m without pain). In 25 patients who still developed pain, the average increase in the initial claudication distance was 132% (from 75 to 174 m). Among these, 20 patients (77%) were still unable to complete the treadmill test due to maximal claudication pain, but the absolute claudication distance increased by 87% from 204 to 381 m (p <0.05). No cardiovascular complication occurred during the study period. Major clinical variables failed to predict an unsatisfactory increase in walking capacity. Conclusions. Short-course training programs enhance the walking ability even in patients with moderate-to-severe intermittent claudication and seem to be well tolerated, supporting their widespread use in rehabilitation centers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalItalian Heart Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2002


  • Exercise
  • Peripheral vessels
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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