More than 23 million Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and the prevalence of diabetes increased 13.5 percent from 2005-2007.

One effect of diabetes is its contribution to the development of peripheral arterial disease.

New research shows a 10-week combination of massage and exercise improves systolic and diastolic pressures in patients’ lower extremities, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov.

The objective of this study was to analyze the efficacy of a massage and exercise program on the ankle-brachial index and arterial pressure of patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 and peripheral arterial disease.

“A combined program of exercise and massage improves arterial blood pressure and ankle brachial index values in type 2 diabetics with peripheral arterial disease,” the researchers from Spain’s Universidad de Almería noted.

The full study was published in the Oct. 9 issue of Medicina clínica.

Earlier research reported by MASSAGE Magazine showed that: massage therapy increased the variability of plantar pressure and positively affect gait, in terms of velocity and fluidity, in a patient with diabetic neuropathy; and a combination of acupressure and breath awareness could lower blood sugar and improve health in diabetic patients.

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