Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Thinking Outside the Box May Lead to Better Treatment
Recognizing PAD as an independent disease is a shift from the norm, but a necessary step forward to increase awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of this life-threatening disease. This forward-thinking approach is garnering support from many In the medical community and was detailed in a recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association that was published in the July 2021 issue of Circulation.
Historically, PAD has been lumped into the overarching category of cardiovascular diseases, but has taken a back seat to more well known diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. About 40-80% of the general public isn’t aware or knowledgable about PAD; therefore placing the onus on physicians to inform and educate, as well as screen their patients for PAD.
The first and most accurate method to diagnose PAD is the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI), the ratio of ankle-to-brachial systolic blood pressure. Since PAD can sometimes present as normal aging in patients (ie: difficulty walking, leg pain, or arthritis), a simple ABI test can make all the difference in a physician’s accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
The AHA recommends screening of PAD with ABI in adults who are over 65 years of age and those 50-64 years of age with traditional cardiovascular risk factors, primarily diabetes and a history of smoking. Yet, ABI equipment and testing is not widely available in clinics throughout the U.S. Again, the onus falls on physicians to advocate for the necessary equipment and testing to provide their patients with the best and most thorough healthcare in the fight to prevent PAD.
- PAD affects more than 230 million adults worldwide
- PAD can lead to amputation or death if left untreated
- PAD effects the lower extremities, often causing pain or discomfort in the leg muscles
- Risk factors for PAD include smoking, diabetes, and older age