17 Facts You Need To Know About Peripheral Arterial Disease
As the heart is to coronary artery disease and the brain is to stroke, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is to the legs. PAD is a serious condition that usually goes underdiagnosed in many patients. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, especially when combined with high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking, causes constriction of arteries and limits blood flow most commonly to the legs but also to arms and organs. Those with PAD will have a range of symptoms starting with pain in the legs with walking and can progress to pain even at rest. Late symptoms/complications can include blue toes, loss of sensation, gangrene, and amputation.
Here are 17 facts you should know about peripheral arterial disease:
- A study found that PAD affects 12% to 14% of the general population. This means that almost 40 million people in the United States are at risk.
- Peripheral arterial disease is more widespread than HIV infection, it affects more than 200 million people worldwide, a figure which is six times that of HIV.
- The American Heart Association Statistics Committee found that more than 10 million Americans currently live with peripheral arterial disease, many of whom don’t even know they have it.
- The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of patients over the age of 75 are affected by PAD. People who have reached this age threshold should visit their doctor and screen themselves for peripheral arterial disease.
- A direct correlation between PAD and diabetes has been found by the American Diabetes Association. An estimated 1 out of every 3 people with diabetes over the age of 50 have peripheral arterial disease.
- The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that smoking increases the risk of getting PAD by four times.
- Every year, more than 150,000 lower limb amputations are carried out in the United States. These are the unfortunate consequence of PAD.
- Only 50% of these amputees survive the next three or four years after a leg amputation because of the presence of vascular disease in organs such as the brain and heart.
- This isn’t all – within two years of their first amputation, one-third of all patients will lose their other leg.
- A study published in the AHA Journal found that 20% to 50% of all people with PAD do not show the regular symptoms of the disease, making it harder to identify it.
- Risk factors which increase the chances of getting PAD are smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. The diet of a person plays an important role in the development of PAD.
- Regular symptoms and signs of PAD are leg pain with exercise, burning sensation in toes and foot, ulcers in the foot, and the worst case scenario, gangrene.
- People of African descent are twice as likely to suffer from PAD as people from other races.
- If the person’s family history has someone suffering from any form of vascular disease, the chances of them developing PAD is higher.
- Making a few lifestyle modifications can often prevent the development of PAD. Small changes such as quitting smoking, incorporating a healthy diet and having regular appointments with your doctor can minimize the effects of PAD, especially when done early.
- The leg pain caused by PAD has a unique name, doctors call it “claudication”.
- A sedentary lifestyle can also be a risk factor for developing PAD. Likewise, exercise can help minimize the symptoms of PAD. So get up from your chair, wiggle your toes and move around!
Click here to learn more about PAD symptoms and risk factors and what your treatment options are.