Following a request from cardiologists, the CMS will now offer national Medicare coverage of supervised exercise therapy for treating peripheral artery disease
The agency said in a coverage decision released Thursday that research has shown supervised exercise therapy can help alleviate common symptoms of the cardiovascular disease, including pain and discomfort in a patient's legs.
Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque buildup narrows the arteries outside the heart. It affects 12% to 20% of Americans age 60 and older, and the incidence of the disease increases considerably with age.
Without exercise, individuals with peripheral artery disease could see their condition worsen to the point they lose functional independence.
"Medicare beneficiaries, a significant portion of which have peripheral artery disease will benefit considerably from participating in supervised exercise therapy sessions," American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. "Evidence shows this therapy can improve quality of life for patients and enhance clinical outcomes."
Supervised exercise is a non-invasive treatment option, which can alleviate leg pain during exercise and improve a patient's walking distance, according to the American Heart Association.