Interventions to improve walking ability in OA patients needed
medwireNews: Study results suggest that the youngest patients with osteoarthritis (OA) have the greatest impairments in walking ability compared with healthy controls of the same age, and walking disability is significantly associated with arterial stiffness.
These findings “emphasize the importance of an early and broad clinical approach to OA, addressing prevention and management of cardiovascular risk along with treatment of joint-related symptoms,” say Kenth Joseph (Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway) and fellow researchers.
The team analyzed data from 500 patients with self-reported OA, aged an average of 63 years, more than two-thirds of whom were classified as overweight or obese.
These patients had a significantly shorter 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) than 235 age- and sex-matched controls from the general population, with average distances of 535.0 versus 589.3 m for women and 593.8 versus 642.9 m for men.
The largest difference in 6MWD between OA patients and controls was seen among those in the youngest age group studied (40–49 years); women with OA walked an average of 84.6 m less than their non-OA counterparts, while men with OA walked an average of 88.3 m less.
Joseph and colleagues note that “[t]hese differences attenuated gradually with age increment,” with female and male OA patients in the oldest age group (70–80 years) walking an average of 21.1 m and 30.9 m less, respectively, than their matched controls.
The researchers also identified a significant inverse association between 6MWD and arterial stiffness, a validated marker of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. After adjustment for factors including heart rate, arterial blood pressure, smoking, and body mass index, 100 m longer walking distance was associated with a 0.3 m/s reduction in arterial stiffness as measured by pulse wave velocity.
Walking ability may therefore be “an important factor in the CVD risk profile,” write the authors in Arthritis Care & Research.
And they conclude that interventions to improve walking ability, such as adapted exercise programs, pain management strategies, and encouragement to be physically active, could help “to curb the unfortunate effects of the co-existence of OA and CVD.”
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