Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a common condition affecting 12-20 percent of Americans age 65 and older that may be a signal of future heart attack and strokeand many with the disease may be unaware they have it, says the Society of Interventional Radiology.
For more than a decade, the Society of Interventional Radiology's national screening program, Legs For Life, has helped identify this very serious and potentially life-threatening condition. "An integrated program like Legs For Life assists communities with early detection and management of peripheral arterial disease. The key is preventing its progression, which can lead to painful walking, gangrene, amputation, heart attack or stroke," explained Sanjay Misra, M.D., FSIR, an interventional radiologist at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation for Medical Education and Research in Rochester, Minn.
An estimated 10 million people in the United States suffer from peripheral arterial disease. PAD develops mostly as a result of atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when cholesterol and scar tissue buildup, forming a substance called plaque, which narrows and clogs the arteries and slows blood flow to the legs. Since plaque blocks the smaller leg arteries first, PAD is considered a red flag for several life-threatening vascular diseases, such as heart attack (the number one killer in the United States) and stroke. More than 50 percent of PAD patients are asymptomatic and cannot feel the classic warning sign of PADleg pain that occurs when walking or exercising and disappears when the person stops the activity. This symptom is typically dismissed as a sign of getting older, as is numbness and tingling in the lower legs and feet, coldness in the lower legs and feet, and ulcers or sores on the legs or feet that don't heal.
In many cases, PAD can be treated with medication (such as blood thinners or drugs that dilate an affected artery), lifestyle changes (such as smoking cessation), d
|Contact: Ellen Acconcia|
Society of Interventional Radiology