Effect of diabetes mellitus on walking distance parameters after supervised exercise therapy for intermittent claudication: A systematic review

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Some believe that certain patients with intermittent claudication may be unsuitable for supervised exercise therapy (SET), based on the presence of comorbidities and the possibly increased risks. We conducted a systematic review (MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL) to summarize evidence on the potential influence of diabetes mellitus (DM) on the response to SET. Randomized and nonrandomized studies that investigated the effect of DM on walking distance after SET in patients with IC were included. Considered outcome measures were maximal, pain-free and functional walking distance (MWD, PFWD and FWD). Three articles met the inclusion criteria (n = 845). In one study, MWD was 111 meters (128%) longer in the non-DM group compared to the DM group after 3 months of follow-up (p = 0.056). In a second study, the non-DM group demonstrated a significant increase in PFWD (114 meters, p ≤ 0.05) after 3 months of follow-up, whereas there was no statistically significant increase for the DM group (54 meters). On the contrary, the largest study of this review did not demonstrate any adverse effect of DM on MWD and FWD after SET. In conclusion, the data evaluating the effects of DM on SET were inadequate to determine if DM impairs the exercise response. While trends in the data do not suggest an impairment, they are not conclusive. Practitioners should consider this limitation when making clinical decisions.

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