Supervised Exercise Therapy for Symptomatic Peripheral Artery Disease: A REVIEW OF CURRENT EXPERIENCE AND PRACTICE-BASED RECOMMENDATIONS

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J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev


PURPOSE: This review encompasses several practical components of supervised exercise therapy (SET) for patients with claudication including referral, exercise training, and billing issues. Real-life SET session examples are also provided. SET was approved for reimbursement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2017, and there is continual growth of programs offering SET and in participation. The purpose of this review is to provide useful information for the clinical exercise professionals working with these patients.

REVIEW METHODS: The 2016 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Management of Patients With Lower Extremity Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) provided a class I (highest level) recommendation for the use of SET in those with symptomatic PAD. Since there has been much growth in the literature about the utility of SET, the literature was reviewed (PubMed) to provide information for this article. Topics reviewed include the benefits of exercise training, exercise prescription, billing, referral and participation, and best practices.

SUMMARY: SET should be offered to all patients with symptomatic PAD who are not at risk of acute limb ischemia. For optimal results, SET should be implemented several times per week and in a progressive process to increase exercise intensity as tolerated. For best results, programs should recommend patients supplement SET with home exercise. Considerations for utilizing reimbursed sessions should also be discussed because patients have a maximum of 72 sessions/lifetime. Referral practices need refinement, and participation rates remain extremely low and may be influenced by demographics. Research on best practices and home or hybrid training must continue to address issues related to common enrollment and participation barriers.

CONDENSED ABSTRACT: Supervised exercise training (SET) for symptomatic peripheral artery disease is a class IA recommendation and reimbursable by most insurances. Improvements in walking performance can be dramatic. However, referral and participation in SET remain very low and thus SET is vastly underutilized.

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ePub ahead of print