Background and aims
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is associated with poor mobility and fatigue, but the relationship between preclinical ankle-brachial index (ABI) and early markers of fatigue and functional decline has not been defined.
570 adults, 50 and older, from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (N = 570), with normal values of ABI (1–1.39), were classified into ABI tertiles. Perceived fatigability was assessed after a 5-min, treadmill walk (1.5 mph) using the Borg rating of perceived exertion (RPE, range 6–20). Functional evaluation included the Health, Aging and Body Composition Physical Performance Battery (HABC PPB), time to complete a 400-m corridor walk (LDCW), and VO2 peak (ml/kg/min). High RPE and poor walking endurance (PWE) were defined as RPE≥10 and taking >5 min for the LDCW, respectively. Differences between tertiles in fatigability and functional measures were tested adjusting for demographics, behavioral characteristics, self-reported fatigue, and medical history.
Mean LDCW time and RPE were greater for participants in the lowest tertile compared to those in the highest; mean VO2 peak and HABC PPB scores were lower, suggesting hierarchical associations between fatigability, functional performance, and ABI (p < 0.05 for all). Odds of PWE were greater for those in the lowest ABI tertile compared to the highest; odds of reporting high RPE were greater for those in the middle tertile.
Lower ABI is associated with poorer physical function and increased fatigability, suggesting that early changes in ABI may infer greater risk of functional decline, even among those who may not progress to PAD.