This study assessed the feasibility, tolerability, safety, and potential efficacy of a novel, 6-wk, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program for patients with intermittent claudication (IC).
Patients referred to a usual-care supervised exercise program were invited to undertake a HIIT program. All recruited patients performed a baseline cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPX) to inform their exercise prescription. HIIT involved 10, 1-min high-intensity cycling intervals interspersed with 1-min recovery intervals, performed 3 d/wk for 6 wk. Outcomes included feasibility, tolerability, safety, walking distance, and quality of life.
A total of 144 patients with IC were referred, 95 met initial eligibility criteria (66%) and 30 (32%) were recruited for HIIT, of which 15 (50%) completed. Of the recruited patients, 90% were on optimal medical therapy and 40% had concomitant cardiac, cerebrovascular, and/or respiratory disease. Patients who completed the program attended 100% of the sessions and one serious adverse event was recorded. Improvements in walking distances and quality of life were observed. Following recruitment of the first 20 patients, the inclusion criteria were refined on the basis of CPX, leading to improved completion rates.
This study provides preliminary findings indicating that patients with IC can complete a short-term HIIT program. We provide very early evidence that HIIT may be safe and well-tolerated. In addition, walking distances seem to improve following HIIT. After a small change in the exclusion criteria, the intervention and inclusion/exclusion criteria now seem appropriate for this population, meaning further research to evaluate HIIT in patients with IC is warranted.