Background: The purpose was to compare the changes in claudication pain, ambulatory function, daily physical activity, peripheral circulation, and health-related quality of life following a program of exercise rehabilitation in smoking and nonsmoking patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) limited by intermittent claudication. Methods and results: Thirty-nine smokers (63 ± 4 pack-year smoking history; mean ± SE) and 46 nonsmokers (former smokers who had a 51 ± 7 pack-year smoking history who quit 14 ± 2 years prior to investigation) completed the study. The 6-month exercise rehabilitation program consisted of intermittent treadmill walking to near maximal claudication pain 3 days per week, with progressive increases in walking duration and intensity during the program. Measurements were obtained on each patient before and after rehabilitation. Following exercise rehabilitation the smokers and nonsmokers had similar improvements in these measures, as initial claudication distance increased by 119% in the smokers (P < .001) and by 97% in the nonsmokers (P < .001), and absolute claudication distance increased by 82% (P < .001) and 59% (P < .001) in the smokers and nonsmokers, respectively. Furthermore, exercise rehabilitation improved (P < .05) ambulatory function, daily physical activity, peripheral circulation, and health-related quality of life in the smokers and nonsmokers. Conclusion: Exercise rehabilitation is an effective therapy to improve functional independence in both smoking and nonsmoking patients with PAD limited by intermittent claudication. Therefore, smokers with intermittent claudication are prime candidates for exercise rehabilitation because their relatively low baseline physical function does not impair their ability to regain lost functional independence to levels similar to nonsmoking patients with PAD.
Gardner, A. W., Killewich, L. A., Montgomery, P. S., & Katzel, L. I. (2004). Response to exercise rehabilitation in smoking and nonsmoking patients with intermittent claudication. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 39(3), 531–538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvs.2003.08.037