Cardiac function and oxygen consumption were measured in 25 patients who underwent amputation for peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and in five similarly aged control patients with PVD. Five patients at each of the midfoot, Syme's, below-, through-, and above-knee amputation levels and the five controls were measured at rest, normal walking speed, and maximum walking speed on a treadmill. At normal walking speed, all of the patients functioned at approximately 80% of their cardiac capacity. Normal walking speed and cadence decreased and oxygen consumption per meter walked increased with more proximal amputation. The ratio of cardiac function and oxygen consumption at normal walking speed as compared with at rest increased with more proximal amputation, and the capacity to increase walking speed and oxygen consumption lessened. Our results suggest that peripheral vascular insufficiency amputees function at a level approaching their maximum functional capacity. At more proximal amputation levels, the capacity to walk short or long distances is greatly impaired.

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