Poor blood circulation and scarring (triggered by the protein TGF-Beta 1) in peripheral artery disease (PAD) patients' legs make walking painful and fatiguing. While it can not reduce scarring, surgery restores the blood flow by reopening or bypassing blockages in blood vessels. Surgical blood flow restoration also stabilizes TGF-Beta 1 level, which exercise can't.
Poor circulation in the legs can be improved through the surgical restoration of blood flow to the area, which was found to be more effective than exercise. The condition is known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), and it’s characterized by pain and fatigue that patients experience while walking. Symptoms result from poor blood circulation in the legs.
Is There A Cure For PAD?
There is no current solution to restore scarring caused by PAD, but there is a medical procedure that can reopen or bypass blockages in the blood vessels as a means to restore blood flow.
For the study, the researchers analyzed a protein known as TGF-Beta 1 that triggers scarring in patients with severe PAD. Collagen was also measured as it is found in scars in calf muscle biopsies. After a six-month period, researchers compared biopsy results in 20 patients who underwent medical intervention to restore blood flow, 19 patients who engaged in supervised exercise, and 17 who did not receive any treatment.
None of the groups saw a reduction in scarring as a result of PAD, but the blood flow restoration procedures prevented it from worsening. Moreover, collagen fibers and TGF-Beta 1 levels increased in the exercise and control groups but not in the group that received the medical procedure.
Better To Restore Blood Flow Than Exercise
Study author Duy Ha said, “This suggests that the long-term benefits to the health of leg muscles is better with re-vascularization than with exercise therapy alone. Unfortunately, not all patients are candidates for these procedures, which carry significant risks, and the treated vessels may get blocked again.”
“We hope that we can develop therapies that directly decrease TGF-Beta 1 and its associated scarring in the leg muscles of PAD patients. Such new treatments, when used alone or along with revascularization and exercise, may maintain or enhance the ability of our patients to walk and live healthy lives,” Ha concluded.
The findings were presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting.