Guidelines recommend supervised exercise therapy (SET) as first-line treatment for intermittent claudication. However, the use of revascularization is widespread. We addressed the effectiveness of preventing (additional) invasive revascularization after primary SET or revascularization based on lesion and patient characteristics. In this single-center, retrospective, cohort study, 474 patients with intermittent claudication were included. Patients with occlusive disease of the aortoiliac tract and/or common femoral artery (inflow) were primarily considered for revascularization, while patients with more distal disease (outflow) were primarily considered for SET. In total, 232 patients were referred for SET and 242 patients received revascularization. The primary outcome was freedom from (additional) intervention, analyzed by Kaplan–Meier estimates. Secondary outcomes were survival, critical ischemia, freedom from target lesion revascularization (TLR), and an increase in maximum walking distance. In the SET-first strategy, 71% of patients had significant outflow lesions. Freedom from intervention was 0.90 ± 0.02 at 1-year and 0.82 ± 0.03 at 2-year follow-up. In the primary revascularization group, 90% of patients had inflow lesions. Freedom from additional intervention was 0.78 ± 0.03 at 1-year and only 0.65 ± 0.04 at 2-year follow-up, despite freedom from TLR of 0.91 ± 0.02 and 0.85 ± 0.03 at 1- and 2-year follow-up, respectively. In conclusion, SET was effective in preventing invasive treatment for patients with mainly outflow lesions. In contrast, secondary intervention rates following our strategy of primary revascularization for inflow lesions were unexpectedly high. These findings further support the guideline recommendations of SET as first-line treatment for all patients with intermittent claudication irrespective of level of disease.

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Keywords lower extremity, bypass, endarterectomy, endovascular therapy, supervised exercise therapy, peripheral artery disease (PAD), revascularization
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Journal Vascular Medicine: the international journal of research review and clinical practice
Bouwens, E., Klaphake, S., Weststrate, K.J., Teijink, J.A.W, Verhagen, H.J.M, Hoeks, S.E, & Rouwet, E.V. (2019). Supervised exercise therapy and revascularization: Single-center experience of intermittent claudication management. Vascular Medicine: the international journal of research review and clinical practice, 24(3), 208–215. doi:10.1177/1358863x18821175