Heat Therapy vs. Exercise in Peripheral Arterial Disease

Can heat therapy improve exercise tolerance in peripheral arterial disease patients? Associate Editor Nisha Charkoudian (U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine) interviews lead author Ashley Akerman (University of Ottawa) and content expert Zachary Schlader (Indiana University) about the novel passive heat training study by Akerman and co-authors. While exercise is the gold standard for conservative management of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), patients often struggle to comply with exercise treatment guidelines due to painful atherosclerotic plaque build-up in their arteries. Aimed at breaking the vicious cycle of needing to exercise but failing to do so because of pain, Akerman and collaborators designed a 12-week intervention study to compare exercise to heat therapy in older PAD patients. While functional walking improved for both groups, systolic blood pressure was markedly reduced in the heat therapy group. Surprisingly, other measures such as blood volume and flow mediated dilation were largely unchanged in both groups. Could these results have a wider impact on other patient populations, such as younger individuals recovering from an injury or diabetes patients?

 

Ashley P. Akerman, Kate N. Thomas, Andre M. van Rij, E. Dianne Body, Mesfer Alfadhel, James D. Cotter Heat therapy vs. supervised exercise therapy for peripheral arterial disease: a 12-wk randomized, controlled trial Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, published June 5, 2019. DOI: doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00151.2019