Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is associated with impaired lower extremity function. This study investigated differences in PAD and control participants and the relationship between lower limb strength and clinical measures of PAD severity. Participants were evaluated by 6-min-walk distance, normal and maximal walking speed over 10 m, isometric plantar-flexion strength, and dynamic dorsi-/plantar-flexion strength. Hemodynamic measures of the lower limbs were recorded at rest and after maximal treadmill testing. PAD participants walked significantly less far during the 6-min walk, and there were large differences in normal and maximal walking speeds. Small to moderate differences were found for isometric plantar-flexion strength. In the diseased legs of the PAD participants, resting systolic hallux photoplethysmography was significantly correlated with isokinetic plantar-flexion strength and onset of claudication pain during the 6-min-walk test. In addition to confirming the documented loss of walking endurance, these data suggest that loss of strength of the plantar flexors is associated with increasing PAD impairment.
McGuigan is with the Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. Bronks and Newton are with the School of Exercise Science and Sports Management, Southern Cross University, and Graham and Cody, with St. Vincent's Hospital, Lismore, NSW, Australia.