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OBJECTIVES: To determine whether higher circulating levels of inflammatory and thrombotic markers are associated with greater decline in lower extremity performance.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort.

SETTING: Academic medical center.

PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred thirty-seven men and women with lower extremity peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and 215 without PAD.

MEASUREMENTS: Objective measures of leg function, including the 6-minute walk and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), were obtained at baseline and annually for 3 years. D-dimer, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, and fibrinogen levels were measured at baseline. Participants were categorized into one of three groups, ranging from low to high levels of inflammation, depending on the number of individual blood factors in the lowest and highest tertiles for each corresponding blood factor.

RESULTS: Adjusting for age, sex, race, ankle brachial index, comorbidities, and other confounders, greater inflammation was associated with greater decline in the SPPB (P = .008). Results were similar when repeated in participants with and without PAD separately (P for trend = .04 for participants with PAD and .07 for participants without PAD). In fully adjusted analyses, there were no significant associations between inflammation group and decline in 6-minute walk performance.

CONCLUSION: Higher baseline levels of inflammatory markers and D-dimer were associated with greater decline in the SPPB at 3-year follow-up in persons with and without PAD.

(C) 2005 by the American Geriatrics Society