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Drug May Make Walking Easier for People With Artery Disease
Date:2/5/2013

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The blood pressure drug ramipril may make walking a bit easier for people with clogged leg arteries, new study results suggest.

Researchers found that of 212 people with peripheral artery disease (PAD), those given ramipril every day for nearly six months were faring better on their feet than those on inactive placebo pills.

On average, they could walk on a treadmill 4 minutes longer, and got an extra 75 seconds of pain-free walking.

That might not sound like a big difference. But it beats the benefits of the two drugs approved in the United States for improving PAD patients' ability to walk, according to Dr. Mary McGrae McDermott, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

It's also similar to the effects of supervised exercise therapy -- another standard PAD treatment, said McDermott, who wrote an editorial published with the study in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ramipril is sold under the brand-name Altace in the United States, but it is also available as a generic.

And that's a selling point for using it to treat PAD-related walking problems, according to study leader Anna Ahimastos. It may not only be effective, but also inexpensive, said Ahimastos, a researcher with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

One thing that's not clear, according to McDermott, is how well improvements in treadmill walking translate into real life.

"Treadmill walking performance is not likely to be a precise surrogate for people's daily functioning or quality of life," she said.

Still, she added, the patients on ramipril did score higher on a quality-of-life questionnaire. They also said their walking speed and ability to climb stairs had improved, while the placebo users did not.

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