Racial differences in functional decline in peripheral artery disease and associations with socioeconomic status and education

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The objective of this study was to determine whether blacks with lower extremity peripheral artery disease (PAD) have faster functional decline than whites with PAD.


Participants with ankle-brachial index <0.90 were identified from Chicago medical centers and observed longitudinally. Mobility impairment and the 6-minute walk were assessed at baseline and every 6 to 12 months. Mobility loss was defined as becoming unable to walk up and down a flight of stairs or to walk ¼ mile without assistance.


Of 1162 PAD participants, 305 (26%) were black. Median follow-up was 46.0 months. Among 711 PAD participants who walked 6 minutes continuously at baseline, black participants were more likely to become unable to walk 6 minutes continuously during follow-up (64/171 [37.4%] vs 156/540 [28.9%]; log-rank, P = .006). Black race was associated with becoming unable to walk 6 minutes continuously, adjusting for age, sex, ankle-brachial index, comorbidities, and other confounders (hazard ratio, 1.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-1.99; P = .022). This association was attenuated after adjustment for income and education (P = .229). Among 844 participants without baseline mobility impairment, black participants had a higher rate of mobility loss (64/209 [30.6%] vs 164/635 [25.8%]; log-rank, P = .009). Black race was associated with increased mobility loss, adjusting for potential confounders (hazard ratio, 1.42; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.94; P = .028). This association was attenuated after additional adjustment for income and education (P = .392) and physical activity (P = .113). There were no racial differences in average annual declines in 6-minute walk, usual-paced 4-meter walking velocity, or fast-paced 4-meter walking velocity.


Black PAD patients have higher rates of mobility loss and becoming unable to walk for 6 minutes continuously. These differences appear related to racial differences in socioeconomic status and physical activity.

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