September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month. According to the CardioVascular Coalition, PAD affects approximately 18 million US citizens, and of those, an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 will have a limb amputated this year. Screening and treatment can “improve quality of life, reduce care costs, and prevent limb loss.”1
What are the symptoms of PAD?
PAD is the result of narrowing of the arteries in the legs, stomach, arms, and head. PAD is usually caused by atherosclerosis, a disease that causes arteries to harden due to a buildup of plaque. Symptoms of PAD include pain or cramping in the thigh, calf, or hip, especially during exercise; numbness and weakness in the legs; sores on toes, feet, and legs that will not heal; coldness in the lower leg and feet; and shiny skin on legs and/or feet.
How can we screen for PAD?
Because about 20-50% of people with PAD do not show symptoms,2 it is important to screen for this disease. An ankle-brachial index (ABI) can be used to screen for and diagnose PAD in your primary care doctor’s office.3 The American Heart Association recommends screening over-50 patients who smoke, and all patients 65 years and older.
Cook is dedicated to limb preservation
Limb preservation is a key goal of Cook Medical’s Peripheral Intervention (PI) business unit, and so we share the goal of helping to increase awareness of PAD so that it can be treated in a timely fashion and avoid limb loss.
Members of the PI team have reached out to podiatrists to let them know how to spot symptoms of PAD. Podiatrists are often consulted first by patients with pain in their feet that may be associated with PAD. If podiatrists know what they are seeing, they can alert the patient to see an endovascular specialist.
Get the PAD Awareness Toolkit
You can find useful tools for spreading awareness about PAD on the CardioVascular Coalition’s website. A toolkit is available that includes a sample letter to your member of congress, press release, and letter to the editor. You will also find a flyer, social media posts, and other helpful resources.
1. Cardiovascular Coalition September is PAD Awareness Month. http://cardiovascularcoalition.com/pad-awareness-month/. Accessed August 29, 2017.
2 McDermott, M, Guralnik, J, Ferrucci, L, et al. Asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease is associated with more adverse lower extremity characteristics than intermittent claudication. Circulation. 2008;117:2484-2491.
3. Hennion D, Siano K. Diagnosis and treatment of peripheral arterial disease. Am Fam Physician. 2013;88(5):306-310.