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J Vasc Surg. 1998 Jul;28(1):129-35.

Smoking, hemorheologic factors, and progression of peripheral arterial disease in patients with claudication.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, United Kingdom.



The purpose of the current study was to determine whether hemostatic and rheologic factors are associated with the deterioration of peripheral arterial disease in patients with intermittent claudication and the influence of smoking and severity of underlying disease on these relationships.


We conducted a prospective cohort study with a 6-year follow-up period of a consecutive series of 607 patients with uncomplicated intermittent claudication. The study setting was the Peripheral Vascular Clinic, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The main outcome measures were peripheral vascular intervention or onset of severe chronic leg ischemia (rest pain, ulceration, gangrene).


A total of 210 patients died during follow-up. Two hundred three patients did not have a vascular event or deterioration of limb ischemia, 45 patients underwent a peripheral vascular intervention, and 64 progressed to severe chronic leg ischemia. Median levels (interquartile ranges) of whole blood viscosity were significantly higher in the vascular intervention group (3.75 mPa/sec; range, 3.38 to 4.13 mPa/sec) than in those who did not deteriorate 3.48 mPa/sec; range, 3.06 to 3.83 mPa/sec) (p < or = 0.05), and plasma von Willebrand factor was higher in those with severe chronic leg ischemia (154.0 IU/dl; range, 122.0 to 187.0 IU/dl) than in those who did not deteriorate (131.0 IU/dl; range, 106.0 to 165.0 IU/dl) (p < or = 0.01). After adjustment for age, sex, cigarette smoking, and ankle brachial pressure index, the levels of plasma fibrinogen and blood and plasma viscosities were each associated with an increased risk of vascular intervention (all p < or = 0.05). There were no significant associations between any of the hemorheologic factors and the risk of severe chronic leg ischemia on multivariate analyses.


Elevations in rheologic factors may have important effects on further reduction of blood flow in the legs of patients with claudication and promote worsening ischemia and clinical progression of symptoms.

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