The Effects of an Intensive 26-Day Program of Diet and Exercise on Patients with Peripheral Vascular Disease


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Abstract

To assess the effectiveness of the Pritikin program of diet and exercise on vascular dynamics in patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD), 16 patients with previously diagnosed PVD underwent a resting and exercise Doppler examination at the start and at the conclusion of a 26-day residential program. Maximal symptom-limited work capacity increased from 4.1 ± .35 to 6.6 ± .4 METs (±SEM, P < .001). Cholesterol decreased from 253.7 ± 18.1 to 182.4 ± 11.7 mg/dl (P < .001), and triglycerides decreased from 265 ± 60.3 to 180 ± 31.7 mg/dl (P < .05). Walking, which was minimal before admission to the program, was increased to a mean of 2.3 ± .15 hours per day at the end of the 26-day program.At rest, right leg mean ankle/arm index increased in percent from 58.6 ± 3.5% to 64.3 ± 3.5% (P < .05) and decreased in pressure differential from 56.5 ± 5.5 to 47.9 ± 5.5 mm Hg (P < .05). The left leg mean ankle/arm index increased in percent from 63.1 ± 5% to 65.4 ± 5.4% (P > .05) and decreased in pressure differential from 51 ± 7.6 to 46.4 ± 8.9 mm Hg (P > .05). Immediately after exercise, mean right leg ankle/arm index increased in percent from 26 ± 3.8% to 40.7 ± 5.5% (P < .001) and decreased in pressure differential from 123.6 ± 7.3 to 89.1 ± 8.5 mm Hg (P < .001). The left leg mean ankle/arm index increased in percent from 30 ± 4.4% to 44.6 ± 7.5% (P < .001) and decreased in pressure differential from 117.7 ± 9.8 to 83.9 ± 12 mm Hg (P < .001). Ankle pressure recovery time (recorded postexercise) decreased from 13.1 ± 1.8 to 6.1 ± 1.1 minutes (P < .001) on the right and from 15.5 ± 1.7 to 6.4 ± 1.5 minutes on the left (P < .001). These pressure changes were associated with the elimination of claudication pain in 11 of 16 patients.Results show that the Pritikin program of combined diet and exercise is an effective way to treat PVD. The Doppler data obtained at rest and during exercise suggest that an improvement in collateral flow is in part responsible for the increase in performance capacity.

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