September is Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month. This is important because awareness of the disease is still very low. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects the arteries carrying blood away from the heart. It occurs when these arteries narrow due to plaque buildup on arterial walls, reducing blood flow to legs, feet, and toes. PAD complications include critical limb ischemia, gangrene, and amputation if it is allowed to progress too far before any intervention.
Awareness of PAD is Low
While you don’t often hear about PAD, the prevalence of the disease is significant. It is estimated to be between 15% and 20% in people with an age greater than 60. If a person is over 80, it can jump as high as 40%. Despite how common it is, especially in people that are higher in age, many people have never heard of it.
PAD Screening is Not Difficult
PAD is easy to screen for, easy to evaluate, and treatable when an early diagnosis can be made. Our goal is to promote awareness of peripheral artery disease and its risk factors, encourage early screening, and educate people about treatment options. With more awareness, patients and doctors will be able to identify early signs of PAD and ensure early intervention in order to decrease these numbers.
Top Risk Factors for PAD
Age is the most notable risk factor for peripheral artery disease. Diabetes is another major risk factor. The prevalence increases significantly for those who have had diabetes for ten years or longer. Another extremely important factor is any history of smoking.
If you have smoked cigarettes for a total of ten years or more, you have a significantly higher risk of developing PAD even if you no longer smoke. In order to prevent your risk from increasing further, it is important to quit smoking so your vascular health can recover. Finally, other risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are also very important in determining who will develop this disease
Are You at Risk?
If you have any two of the major risk factors mentioned above, you are at a considerably increased risk of developing peripheral arterial disease. It would be a wise choice to be evaluated for PAD. If you aren’t sure, take our PAD Risk Assessment Quiz for a recommendation based on your symptoms and risk factors.