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PHYSICAL THERAPY AFFECTS ENDOTHELIAL FUNCTION IN LYMPHEDEMA PATIENTS

B Brix, G Apich, C Ure, A Roessler, N Goswami

Abstract


Lymphedema arises due to a malfunction of the lymphatic system and can lead to massive tissue swelling. Complete decongestive therapy (CDT), consisting of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) and compression bandaging, is aimed at mobilizing fluid and reducing volume in affected extremities. Lymphatic dysfunction has previously been associated with chronic inflammation processes. We investigated plasma ADMA as an indicator of endothelial function/inflammation before-, during- and after-CDT. Also assessed were vascular function parameters such as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWVcf), flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and retinal microvasculature analysis. 13 patients (3 males and 10 females, 57 ± 8 years old (mean ± SD), 167.2 ± 8.3 cm height, 91.0 ± 23.5 kg weight), with lower limb lymphedema were included. Vascular function parameters were assessed on day 1, 2, 7, 14 and 21 of CDT, pre- and post-MLD. ADMA was significantly lower post-MLD (p=0.0064) and tended to reduce over three weeks of therapy (p=0.0506). PWVcf weakly correlated with FMD (r=0.361, p=0.010). PWVcf, FMD and retinal microvasculature analysis did not show changes due to physical therapy. The novel results from this study indicate that lymphedema does not affect endothelial function and lymphedema patients may therefore not have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Our results further suggest that manual lymphatic drainage with or without full CDT could have potentially beneficial effects on endothelial function in lymphedema patients (by reducing ADMA levels), which has not been reported previously.

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