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Revascularization Beats Exercise for PAD Patients

Researchers analyzed levels of TGF-β1 and collagen in biopsies of affected calf muscles

FRIDAY, May 6, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Revascularization to restore blood flow may have greater benefits than exercise for patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to findings presented at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/Peripheral Vascular Disease 2016 Scientific Sessions, held from May 5 to 7 in Nashville, Tenn.

Researchers analyzed levels of TGF-β1, a protein that triggers scarring in patients with severe PAD. They also measured levels of collagen in biopsies of the patients’ calf muscles. After six months, the team compared the biopsy results among 20 patients who underwent revascularization to restore blood flow, 19 patients who completed a supervised exercise program, and 17 who had no treatment.

Neither of the treatment groups saw a reduction in scarring associated with PAD, but revascularization appeared to halt progression, the researchers found. Collagen fibers and TGF-β1 levels increased in the exercise and control groups, but did not increase in the revascularization group. Patients in both treatment groups saw improvements in how long they could walk on a treadmill before their pain forced them to stop. However, only those in the revascularization group improved the distance they could walk within six minutes.

“This suggests that the long-term benefits to the health of leg muscles [are] better with revascularization than with exercise therapy alone,” study author Duy Ha, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. “We hope that we can develop therapies that directly decrease TGF-β1 and its associated scarring in the leg muscles of PAD patients. Such new treatments, when used alone or along with revascularization and exercise, may maintain or enhance the ability of our patients to walk and live healthy lives.”

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