OBJECTIVE: Walking training (WT) is an established treatment for patients with intermittent claudication (IC). Abnormalities specific to diabetes, such as a relative preponderance of distal lesions and the contribution of microcirculatory disease, might well influence the results of WT. We compared changes in walking distance during WT in diabetic patients with those in nondiabetic control subjects. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In consecutive patients with limiting IC and proven peripheral vascular disease, 33 patients with diabetes were compared with 136 control subjects during a half-year supervised WT program. Walking parameters were determined every 2 months, while vascular parameters were obtained at the start and end of the program. RESULTS: Of the 33 diabetic patients, 25 (76%) completed the program, as did 87 of the 136 (64%) control subjects. Thereafter, the symptom-free walking distance and the maximum walking distance (MWD) were significantly increased in diabetic patients from 142 +/- 30 to 339 +/- 57 m and from 266 +/- 39 to 603 +/- 52 m, respectively, and in control subjects from 126 +/- 8 to 400 +/- 39 m and from 292 +/- 18 to 628 +/- 36 m, respectively. The relative gain in MWD was 88% greater in those with diabetes. The vascular parameters were comparable for both groups before and after WT. CONCLUSIONS: WT is an effective treatment for IC, with a greater relative gain in diabetic patients.

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