Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition in which fatty buildup accumulates in the arteries, leading to reduced blood flow to the limbs.
It is a common condition affecting blood flow to the arms and legs.
People with PAD may experience muscle pain in the legs while walking. The primary non-surgical treatment for the disease is exercise.
In a recent study from New Zealand, researchers found that hot water soak is as effective as exercise for managing PAD.
The finding may benefit people who have the condition and find exercise is difficult to do.
The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology.
In the study, the team examined if heat therapy could help control PAD.
They hypothesized that heat may be more effective than exercise in promoting beneficial cardiovascular changes that, in turn, could increase walking distance in people with PAD.
They examined two groups of adults with mild-to-moderate PAD.
One group was encouraged to attend twice-weekly exercise sessions. During each session, the volunteers walked for up to 30 minutes on an indoor course and performed up to 60 minutes of circuit exercises.
The other group did spa bathing three to five days a week. They were encouraged to submerge up to their shoulders in a pool of 102-degree water for 20 to 30 minutes.
The results showed that walking ability and blood pressure in both groups were improved.
There was no difference between the effects observed in heat therapy via spa bathing and a supervised exercise program.
The findings suggest that heat therapy may be a useful option for managing the peripheral arterial disease
The team says future work needs to confirm the clinical benefits of heat therapy and make sure heat therapy in a safe and efficient way.
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