Woman holding her foot PAD Treatment Modern Vascular

Saving Native American Limbs and Lives

Native American Amputations

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) disproportionately affects a number of underserved populations, which is why at Modern Vascular we endeavor to bring our services to these communities. One of the groups of people we are most passionate about is the Native American Community, which suffers more from PAD than most others and represents a large population not far from our clinics in Arizona.

There are nearly 300,000 Native Americans – including members of the Navajo, Apache, Hopi, Gila River, Salt River, and Prima tribes – in Arizona out of more than 5 million in the entire U.S. Many live in 20 reservations across the state.1

Many in the Native American community lack easy access to quality medical care, yet they are at a higher risk of many persistent and life-threatening health issues, including diabetes and PAD. Native American adults have a higher rate of diabetes, the leading cause of PAD – 16 percent — than any other race or ethnicity.2 Native Americans are also found to have moderate-to severe PAD at a rate of 1.5-2 times that of white people.3

PAD and diabetes not only inhibit the ability to feel the pain of a foot wound; they can also impair the body’s ability to heal an ulcer, and elevations in blood glucose can reduce the ability to fight infection, both factors leading to further damage and, again, increasing the danger of amputation. Due to a lack of feeling, you must learn to recognize other symptoms aside from the obvious ulceration, including discharge on your socks and redness and swelling of the foot.

Native Americans and Peripheral Artery Disease

Adding to the urgency of the PAD risk for Native Americans is the deep spiritual aspect. Some considering themselves connected to the earth, losing a foot – and that connection – is sacred. Dr. Brannan, Chief of Endovascular Surgery explains- “We like to say in our practice that saving limbs is saving lives, but with Native Americans, that phrase has a deeper and more literal meaning. In working with Native American patients of the Southwest United States I have had patients tell me they would rather pass away than lose a limb.”

This great need and cultural importance synergizes with Modern Vascular’s own passion for saving limbs and lives. Modern Vascular supports the First Nations Limb Preservation Foundation, which Dr. Brannan helped found, and its mission to take on any patient and alleviate the hardship of PAD in the Southwestern Native American community. Through its partnership with the Foundation, the Modern Vascular doctors in Phoenix have successfully treated hundreds of Native American patients in the last 3 years.

Sources

  1. Gallup Independent
  2. National Health Interview Survey and Indian Health Service, 2010-2012
  3. NIH: Increased Prevalence of Moderate and Severe Peripheral Arterial Disease in the American Indian (AI)/Alaskan Native (AN) Population; a Study of 96,000 AI/AN, 2016