An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Home-based Exercise Programmes for Individuals with Intermittent Claudication

S A Pymer, S Ibeggazene, J Palmer, G A Tew, L Ingle, I C Chetter, Amy Elizabeth Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Supervised exercise programmes (SEP) are effective for improving walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication (IC) but provision and uptake rates are sub-optimal. Access to such programmes has also been halted by the Coronavirus pandemic. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence for home-based exercise programmes (HEP).

DATA SOURCES: Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro and Cochrane CENTRAL were searched for terms relating to HEP and IC.

REVIEW METHODS: This review was conducted in according with the published protocol and PRISMA guidance. Randomised and non-randomised trials that compared a HEP to SEP, basic exercise advice or no exercise controls for IC were included. A narrative synthesis was provided for all studies and meta-analyses conducted using data from randomised trials. The primary outcome was maximal walking distance. Sub-group analyses were performed to consider the effect of monitoring. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool and quality of evidence via GRADE.

RESULTS: 23 studies with 1907 participants were included. Considering the narrative review, HEPs were inferior to SEPs which was reflected in the meta-analysis (MD 139m, 95% CI 45 to 232m, p = .004, very-low-quality evidence). Monitoring was an important component, as HEPs adopting this were equivalent to SEPs (MD: 8m, 95% CI -81 to 97, p = .86; moderate-quality evidence). For HEPs versus basic exercise advice, narrative review suggested HEPs can be superior, though not always significantly so. For HEPs versus no exercise controls, narrative review and meta-analysis suggested HEPs were potentially superior (MD: 136m, -2-273m p = .05, very-low-quality evidence). Monitoring was also a key element in these comparisons.Other elements such as appropriate frequency (≥3x a week), intensity (to moderate-maximum pain), duration (20 progressing to 60 minutes) and type (walking) of exercise were important, as was education, self-regulation, goal setting, feedback and action planning.

CONCLUSION: When SEPs are unavailable, HEPs are recommended. However, to elicit maximum benefit they should be structured, incorporating all elements of our evidence-based recommendations.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jun 2021


  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Excercise
  • Walking


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