Endothelial dysfunction, evaluated by flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), predicts adverse cardiovascular events in patients with intermittent claudication (IC). IC is an example of repeated ischemia/reperfusion injury that may contribute to the progression of vascular disease by worsening endothelial function, a trigger for acute cardiovascular events. The predictive value of effort-induced endothelial dysfunction for cardiovascular events in patients with IC has not been studied previously. The objective of this study was to assess whether exercise-induced endothelial dysfunction is predictive of adverse cardiovascular outcome in IC. In 44 patients with IC, we measured brachial artery FMD by B-mode ultrasonography at rest and 10 minutes after a maximal treadmill exercise. Treadmill exercise halved the FMD (from 3.5 +/- 0.6% to 1.45 +/- 0.46%, p < 0.05). After a follow-up period of 85 (72-98) months, a total of 20 major cardiovascular events occurred. In a multivariate analysis, a post-exercise reduction of brachial FMD > 1.3% was predictive for cardiovascular events. Maximal exercise-induced endothelial dysfunction is predictive of cardiovascular events in patients with IC.
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