Importance: Intermittent claudication (IC) is the most common presentation of infrainguinal peripheral artery disease. Both medical and revascularization interventions for IC aim to increase walking comfort and distance, but there is inconclusive evidence of the comparative benefit of revascularization given the possible risk of limb loss. Objective: To compare the effectiveness of a medical (walking program, smoking cessation counseling, and medications) vs revascularization (endovascular or surgical) intervention for IC in the community, focusing on outcomes of greatest importance to patients. Design, Setting, and Participants: Longitudinal (12-month follow-up) prospective observational cohort study conducted between July 3, 2011, and November 5, 2014, at 15 clinics associated with 11 hospitals in Washington State. Participants were 21 years or older with newly diagnosed or established IC. Interventions: Medical or revascularization interventions. Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary end pointswere 12-month change scores on the distance, speed, and stair-climb domains of the Walking Impairment Questionnaire (score range, 0-100). Secondary outcomes were change scores on the Walking Impairment Questionnaire pain domain (score range, 0-100), Vascular Quality of Life Questionnaire (VascuQol) (score range, 1-7), European Quality of Life-5 Dimension Questionnaire (EQ-5D) (score range, 0-1), and Claudication Symptom Instrument (CSI) (score range, 0-4). Results: A total of 323 adults were enrolled, with 282 (87.3%) in the medical cohort. At baseline, the mean duration of disease was longer for participants in the medical cohort, while those in the revascularization cohort reported more severe disease. Other characteristics were well balanced. At 12 months, change scores in the medical cohort reached significance for the following 3 outcomes: speed (5.9; 95% CI, 0.5-11.3; P = .03), VascuQol (0.28; 95% CI, 0.08-0.49; P = .008), and EQ-5D (0.038; 95% CI, 0.011-0.066; P = .006). In the revascularization cohort, there were significant improvements in the following 7 outcomes: distance (19.5; 95% CI, 7.9-31.0; P = .001), speed (12.1; 95% CI, 1.4-22.8; P = .03), stair climb (11.4; 95% CI, 1.3-21.5; P = .03), pain (20.7; 95% CI, 11.0-30.4; P < .001), VascuQol (1.10; 95% CI, 0.80-1.41; P < .001), EQ-5D (0.113; 95% CI, 0.067-0.159; P < .001), and CSI (-0.63; 95% CI, -0.96 to -0.31; P < .001). Relative improvements (percentage changes) at 12 months in the revascularization cohort over the medical cohort were observed as follows: distance (39.1%), speed (15.6%), stair climb (9.7%), pain (116.9%), VascuQol (41%), EQ-5D (18%), and CSI (13.5%). Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients with IC, those in the revascularization cohort had significantly improved function (Walking Impairment Questionnaire), better health-related quality of life (VascuQol and EQ-5D), and fewer symptoms (CSI) at 12 months compared with those in the medical cohort, providing important information to inform treatment strategies in the community.
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