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CMAJ. 2011 Jan 11;183(1):37-44. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.100248. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Six-month exercise training program to treat post-thrombotic syndrome: a randomized controlled two-centre trial.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, McGill University, Ottawa, Ont., Canada.



Exercise training may have the potential to improve post-thrombotic syndrome, a frequent, chronic complication of deep venous thrombosis. We conducted a randomized controlled two-centre pilot trial to assess the feasibility of a multicentre-based evaluation of a six-month exercise training program to treat post-thrombotic syndrome and to obtain preliminary data on the effectiveness of such a program.


Patients were randomized to receive exercise training (a six-month trainer-supervised program) or control treatment (an education session with monthly phone follow-ups). Levels of eligibility, consent, adherence and retention were used as indicators of study feasibility. Primary outcomes were change from baseline to six months in venous disease-specific quality of life (as measured using the Venous Insufficiency Epidemiological and Economic Study Quality of Life [VEINES-QOL] questionnaire) and severity of post-thrombotic syndrome (as measured by scores on the Villalta scale) in the exercise training group versus the control group, assessed by t tests. Secondary outcomes were change in generic quality of life (as measured using the Short-Form Health Survey-36 [SF-36] questionnaire), category of severity of post-thrombotic syndrome, leg strength, leg flexibility and time on treadmill.


Of 95 patients with post-thrombotic syndrome, 69 were eligible, 43 consented and were randomized, and 39 completed the study. Exercise training was associated with improvement in VEINES-QOL scores (exercise training mean change 6.0, standard deviation [SD] 5.1 v. control mean change 1.4, SD 7.2; difference 4.6, 95% CI 0.54 to 8.7; p = 0.027) and improvement in scores on the Villalta scale (exercise training mean change -3.6, SD 3.7 v. control mean change -1.6, SD 4.3; difference -2.0, 95% CI -4.6 to 0.6; p = 0.14). Most secondary outcomes also showed greater improvement in the exercise training group.


Exercise training may improve post-thrombotic syndrome. It would be feasible to definitively evaluate exercise training as a treatment for post-thrombotic syndrome in a large multicentre trial.

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