MELBOURNE, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- An ACE inhibitor, a drug used mainly for high blood pressure, may improve walking in people with narrowed arteries in the limbs, Australian researchers say.
Anna A. Ahimastos of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and colleagues conducted a study to examine the association of ACE inhibitor therapy on walking distance and health-related quality of life as compared with placebo in people with pain in the calf that comes and goes due to narrowing of the arteries and poor circulation.
The randomized, placebo-controlled trial included 212 patients with peripheral artery disease -- average age 65.5 -- initiated in May 2008 and completed in August 2011.
Patients were randomized to receive 10 milligrams of the drug or matching placebo for 24 weeks. The primary outcome measures for the study were maximum and pain-free walking times, as recorded during a standard treadmill test.
The researchers found that relative to placebo, the drug was associated with a 75-second increase in average pain-free walking time and a 255-second increase in maximum walking time. Compared to placebo, the drug was also associated in patient-perceived ability to perform normal daily activities.
"The drug therapy was also associated with moderate improvement in the physical health component. Importantly, this association was in additional to those achieved with standard clinical management by a general practitioner or vascular specialist," the study authors said.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.