Gender differences following supervised exercise therapy in patients with intermittent claudication

L.N.M. Gommans, M.R.M. Scheltinga, M.R.H.M. van Sambeek, A.H.E.M. Maas, B.L.W. Bendermacher, J.A.W. Teijink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: Prevalence of peripheral arterial disease is equal in men and women. However, women seem to suffer more from the burden of disease. Current studies on gender-related outcomes following supervised exercise therapy (SET) for intermittent claudication (IC) yield conflicting results. Methods: A follow-up analysis was performed on data from the 2010 Exercise Therapy in Peripheral Arterial Disease (EXITPAD) study, a multicenter randomized controlled trial including IC patients receiving SET or a walking advice. The SET program was supervised by physiotherapists and included interval-based treadmill walking approximating maximal pain combined with activities such as cycling and rowing. Patients usually started with three 30-minute sessions a week. Training frequency was adapted during the following year on the basis of individual needs. The primary outcome was gender differences regarding the change in absolute claudication distance (ACD) after SET. ACD was defined as the number of meters that a patient had covered just before he or she was forced to stop walking because of intolerable pain. Secondary outcomes were gender differences in change of functional walking distance, quality of life, and walking (dis) ability after SET. Walking distances were obtained by standardized treadmill testing according to the Gardner-Skinner protocol. Quality of life was measured by the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey, and walking (dis) ability was determined by the Walking Impairment Questionnaire (WIQ). Measurements were performed at baseline and after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Only patients who met the 12-month follow-up measure were included in the analysis. Results: A total of 113 men and 56 women were available for analysis. At baseline, groups were similar in terms of clinical characteristics and ACD walking distances (men, 250 meters; women, 270 meters; P = .45). ACD improved for both sexes. However, ACD increase was significantly lower for women than for men during the first 3 months of SET (Delta 280 meters for men vs Delta 220 meters for women; P = .04). Moreover, absolute walking distance was significantly shorter for women compared with men after 1 year (565 meters vs 660 meters; P = .032). Women also reported less on several WIQ subdomains, although total WIQ score was similar (0.69 for men vs 0.61 for women; P = .592). No differences in quality of life after SET were observed. Conclusions: Women with IC benefit less during the first 3 months of SET and have lower absolute walking distances after 12 months of follow-up compared with men. More research is needed to determine whether gender-based IC treatment strategies are required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-688
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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