Context Among individuals with lower-extremity peripheral arterial disease (PAD),
specific leg symptoms and the ankle brachial index (ABI) are cross-sectionally
related to the degree of functional impairment. However, relations between
these clinical characteristics and objectively measured functional decline
Objective To define whether PAD, ABI, and specific leg symptoms predict functional
decline at 2-year follow-up.
Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective cohort study among 676 consecutively identified individuals
(aged ≥55 years) with and without PAD (n = 417 and n = 259, respectively),
with baseline functional assessments occurring between October 1, 1998, and
January 31, 2000, and follow-up assessments scheduled 1 and 2 years thereafter.
PAD was defined as ABI less than 0.90, and participants with PAD were categorized
at baseline into 1 of 5 mutually exclusive symptom groups.
Main Outcome Measures Mean annual changes in 6-minute walk performance and in usual-paced
and fast-paced 4-m walking velocity, adjusted for age, sex, race, prior-year
functioning, comorbid diseases, body mass index, pack-years of cigarette smoking,
and patterns of missing data.
Results Lower baseline ABI values were associated with greater mean (95% confidence
interval) annual decline in 6-minute walk performance (−73.0 [−142
to −4.2] ft for ABI <0.50 vs −58.8 [−83.5 to −34.0]
ft for ABI 0.50 to <0.90 vs −12.6 [−40.3 to 15.1] ft for ABI
0.90-1.50, P = .02). Compared with participants without
PAD, PAD participants with leg pain on exertion and rest at baseline had greater
mean annual decline in 6-minute walk performance (−111 [−173 to
−50.0] ft vs −8.67 [−36.9 to 19.5] ft, P = .004), usual-pace 4-meter walking velocity (−0.06 [−0.09
to −0.02] m/sec vs −0.01 (−0.03 to 0.003] m/sec, P = .02), and fastest-pace 4-meter walking velocity (−0.07 [−0.11
to −0.03] m/sec vs −0.02 [−0.04 to −0.006] m/sec, P = .046). Compared with participants without PAD, asymptomatic
PAD was associated with greater mean annual decline in 6-minute walk performance
(−76.8 (−135 to −18.6] ft vs −8.67 (−36.9 to
19.5] ft, P = .04) and an increased odds ratio for
becoming unable to walk for 6 minutes continuously (3.63; 95% confidence interval,
1.58-8.36; P = .002).
Conclusions Baseline ABI and the nature of leg symptoms predict the degree of functional
decline at 2-year follow-up. Previously reported lack of worsening in claudication
symptoms over time in patients with PAD may be more related to declining functional
performance to than lack of disease progression.