Peripheral vascular disease PVD

Frequency

Exercise should be set at a frequency tolerated by the individual, aiming for three to five times per week, and integrating activity into everyday life.

Intensity

This should be dependent on how well exercise is tolerated by the individual. It is more likely that the symptoms of intermittent claudication will limit mobility, rather than the symptoms of coronary heart disease. The exercise should be performed to a level where the PVD patient is 'nudging' the exercise level to the onset of leg pain. With sustained exercise, there is an increase in blood flow to the ischaemic region through capillarisation of the muscles, which will boost exercise tolerance and improve symptoms (ACSM, 2001). Exercise prescribers should use their motivational skills to encourage PVD patients, as they may be anxious about continuing exercise in the onset of PVD pain. PVD scales (ACSM, 2001) can be used to monitor patients while exercising.

Type

Walking and lower limb exercise have traditionally been considered the best methods of improving circulation to the lower limbs, but may not be tolerated well by PVD patients. Alternative modes of exercise using non- and partial weightbearing activities, e.g. cycling and rowing, which rarely cause discomfort, can be used to attain the CV exercise dose and possibly to enhance compliance.

Time

Daily exercise is recommended. Start with short periods and gradually increase duration, as tolerated by PVD individual.

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