OBJECTIVES: Although the practice of physical exercise in patients with intermittent claudication (IC) is often encouraged, adherence is low. The difficulty in performing physical training may be related to the psychological characteristics of patients with claudication. To verify the association between anxiety and depression symptoms and barriers to physical exercise and walking capacity in patients with IC.
METHODS: One-hundred and thirteen patients with a clinical diagnosis of IC were included in the study. Patients underwent clinical evaluation by a vascular surgeon, answered the Beck Depression Inventory, and Beck Anxiety Inventory tests were applied by the psychologist. The patients performed the 6-minute test and reported their barriers to physical activity practice in a questionnaire.
RESULTS: Patients with signs of depression had a shorter pain-free walking distance (p=0.015) and total walking distance (p=0.035) compared to patients with no signs of depression. Pain-free walking distance (p=0.29) and total walking distance (p=0.07) were similar between patients with and without signs of anxiety. Patients with symptoms of moderate to severe depression reported more barriers to physical activity practice compared to patients without signs of depression.
CONCLUSION: Symptoms of anxiety and depression are prevalent among patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD). Depression symptoms are associated with personal barriers to exercise, while anxiety symptoms are not. The main barriers to physical activity among patients with IC are exercise-induced pain and the presence of other diseases.